Norfolk police ready extra officers for delayed Covid 'Freedom Day'

Norfolk Police's assistant chief constable for Norfolk Constabulary, Julie Wvendth. Photo: Norfolk C

Norfolk police's chief superintendent Julie Wvendth. - Credit: Archant

Police are preparing themselves for an influx of tourists heading to Norfolk for 'staycations' this summer and are readying extra officers for when 'Freedom Day' does arrive.

Monday's final step of easing coronavirus restrictions was delayed for four weeks by prime minister Boris Johnson, amid concern over rising Covid-19 rates caused by the Delta variant.

But Norfolk Constabulary's chief superintendent Julie Wvendth, said she was aware that when they are eased people will want to celebrate - and said the force would have extra officers on standby for the weekend after that happens.

She said: "As we head into the weekend for what should have been our final one under lockdown rules, I know many people will still be disappointed by the delay.

"The four-week pause means Step 3 rules remain in place, with indoor gatherings restricted to six people or two households and outdoor gatherings of 30.

"While I equally share in this disappointment, like for many of you this news didn’t come as a big surprise, with recent data showing rising cases and the increased spread of the Delta variant."

With July 19 now likely to be the day restrictions are lifted, Miss Wvendth said: "Looking ahead to Monday, July 19 we have plans to deploy additional resources, especially at the weekend, to manage any fallout from people overdoing the “freedom day” celebrations, however we really hope that people will continue to be sensible and act responsibly."

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She said that, as restrictions have been eased, there has been rising demand for police services.

And Miss Wvendth said: "We’re expecting this trend to continue in the coming months with Norfolk being a prime destination this summer for staycation tourists.

"With an influx of visitors we anticipate this will make a very busy summer period.

"However, our resourcing plans our strong and we will continue to support our local communities and visitors to our county."

She said the "overwhelming majority" of people had embraced the easing of restrictions and acted sensibly.

But she said the force was seeing an increase in incidents such as assaults and anti-social behaviour which she said was "largely fuelled by alcohol".

And she urged: "Policing the night-time economy can be a big draw on our resources and at a time when we are excepting increased demand with more people visiting the county, my plea would be for those people to go out to have a good time not to over-do it.

"I’m sure most people who end up in a police cell don’t intend to end their night that way but we’ve all seen before that too much alcohol can have unintended consequences.

"The less we have to deal with issues related to the night time economy, the more we can prioritise the calls from people who need us most.”