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Police chief ‘cautiously optimistic’ after first night of pubs reopening since lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:25 05 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:22 05 July 2020

New assistant chief constable Rob Jones. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

New assistant chief constable Rob Jones. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Archant

Suffolk’s first night out after months of pubs being in lockdown “went really well” – with officers only being called to a handful of fights.

Pubs in Ipswich reopen for business.
The Greyhound
 in Ipswich opened their doors to the public. Picture: Sonya DuncanPubs in Ipswich reopen for business. The Greyhound in Ipswich opened their doors to the public. Picture: Sonya Duncan

That’s the cautious message from Suffolk police’s assistant chief constable Rob Jones, who said the force tackled a few “incidents of disorder” related to people drinking too much in places like Haverhill and Lowestoft.

But ACC Jones said so-called ‘Super Saturday’, for which extra resources were pulled in to help, was actually quieter than an average evening during the lockdown period.

MORE: How busy were Ipswich pubs on the first day of reopening?

He said yesterday’s dismal weather could certainly have played a role in making pubs less busy than expected – and warned we have “some difficult days and weeks ahead” as restrictions ease further.

Pubs in Ipswich reopen for business.
The Greyhound
 in Ipswich opened their doors to the public. Picture: Sonya DuncanPubs in Ipswich reopen for business. The Greyhound in Ipswich opened their doors to the public. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“We prepared for last night being really busy and actually, because of the way there was a staged opening, we didn’t need the extra resources to deal with any problems across Suffolk,” ACC Jones added.

“We will be doing the same approach tonight, so there will be extra resources on the roads and if there was any disorder to deal with.

“There were some incidents of disorder around drinking in Haverhill and Lowestoft.

“If I’m honest, it was a quieter than average evening, even during the lockdown.”

Pubs in Ipswich reopen for business. 
The Woolpack. Picture: SONYA DUNCANPubs in Ipswich reopen for business. The Woolpack. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

MORE: Super Saturday Live - Hairdressers, pubs and restaurant re-openings as they happened

ACC Jones said that in terms of their operation to lift the lockdown, there were no arrests made that were directly related to it.

His message to the public after the first night was this: “First of all, I’d like to say to people thank you for approaching this important step so responsibly.

“We recognise that everyone’s having to make difficult decisions about when is right for them and their families to go out again.

Pubs in Ipswich reopen for business. 
The Woolpack
. Picture: SONYA DUNCANPubs in Ipswich reopen for business. The Woolpack . Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“The first stage went exactly as planned, but we’ve got some difficult days and weeks ahead I would say, as we lift those freedoms further.

“If we take those steps carefully, cautiously, I’m confident we can all enjoy the summer with more and more of those freedoms.”

In nearby Essex, police dealt with a serious assault in Colchester and tackled with problems in Brentwood High Street, which saw four people arrested in connection with a fight.

MORE: Teenager in hospital with broken jaw after ‘serious’ town centre attack

ACC Jones said that although Suffolk Constabulary had not tackled incidents like this overnight, the reason why they brought in extra resources was so that if there is a big incident, nearby forces will help each other.

Pubs in Ipswich reopen for business.
 The Woolpack. 
Picture: SONYA DUNCANPubs in Ipswich reopen for business. The Woolpack. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

He warned that there is a “real possibility” of the force having to tackle something like an unlicensed music event or ‘illegal rave’ in one of Suffolk’s towns as restrictions ease further.

“That’s probably one of the worst problems we could face with keeping people safe – having to make lots of arrests, lots of disruption etc,” he said.

MORE: Prince William orders pint of Suffolk cyder on first trip to pub since lockdown

“We’re really vigilant that one of those incidents could absolutely happen if people aren’t responsible in one of our Suffolk towns.

Pubs in Ipswich reopen for business.
 The Woolpack. Picture: SONYA DUNCANPubs in Ipswich reopen for business. The Woolpack. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“Even in villages – with people going to local pubs – we have to be careful everywhere, but I’m really pleased that last night, we didn’t have any of those problems.

“At the moment, I’m cautiously optimistic we’ve taken that first step, but we do have to be careful.

“Just one incident could change the way people feel about it.”


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