Police chief ‘cautiously optimistic’ after first night of pubs reopening since lockdown
PUBLISHED: 11:25 05 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:22 05 July 2020
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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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.
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.
“We’re really vigilant that one of those incidents could absolutely happen if people aren’t responsible in one of our Suffolk towns.
“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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