The Government has been called upon to stop mixed messages when it comes to Covid-19 regulations as lockdown eases – with research showing many police officers believe there is a lack of clarity.

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) warned the Prime Minister not to repeat the lack of clarity over last year’s pandemic measures. This warning came as new research published by PFEW showed only one in 10 police officers in England and Wales thought the police powers previously introduced to manage the Covid-19 crisis were clear.

PFEW’s national chair John Apter said: “Given the fact that there have been more than 60 rule changes introduced during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise whatsoever that only 10 per cent of police officers who responded to our survey said they found the Covid-19 rule changes to be clear.

"We have been saying from the beginning, clear guidance on what people can and can’t do is needed; otherwise, people will inadvertently fall foul of the law or may take advantage of the mixed messages.”

In January, The Mail reported that Cumbria police initially fined an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old who travelled from Lancashire to the Lakes for gathering in a group of two or more outdoors.

The fines, which were issued when the county was under Tier 3 regulations, were then rescinded as there is an exemption in Tier 3 for people exercising in groups of up to six people.

A spokesman for Cumbria police at the time said ‘officers do occasionally make errors’ due to the guidance changing numerous times throughout the pandemic.

Andrew Slattery, assistant chief constable at Cumbria Constabulary, said: “The nature of the pandemic has meant that it has been necessary for the Government to change the law and the guidance on a regular basis, depending on the public health picture. This has brought unprecedented challenges for police officers across the country who have had to learn, understand and put into practice new laws, occasionally with only a few hours’ notice.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery from Cumbria Police

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery from Cumbria Police

“Here at Cumbria Constabulary, we have worked to inform officers of the changes as quickly and effectively as possible. Often the Government have issued guidance to the general public that has not required any enforcement by the police whatsoever.

“Where required, legislation has been passed in the Health Protection Regulations and the police and local authorities have enforced these laws only where prior engagement, explanation and encouragement has failed or is inappropriate in the circumstances.”