Islington’s top cop urges people to stay at home and practise social distancing rules over bank holiday weekend

Ch Supt Raj Kohli. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Ch Supt Raj Kohli. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant

Islington’s top cop has urged everyone to stay home or abide by social distancing rules over the bank holiday weekend so his officers can focus on tackling violent crime.

Ch Supt Raj Kohli says officers will patrol parks and, if necessarily, fine people for breaking the rules.

As of May 13, one member per household can meet with another person from a different household so long as they practise social distancing by staying two meters apart.

Police can now fine people £100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days. They can fine £200 for the second offence, then doubling for each further crime up to a maximum of £3,200.

Ch Supt Kohli told the Gazette: “We know that it’s going to be challenging because of the weather. We know it’s going to be more challenging because people may misunderstand the lockdown. The key message of government has been “stay alert”, and I know that people have been questioning what does stay alert mean? To me stay alert is quite simple: stay at home but if you have to go out under certain circumstances then stay alert to those circumstances.

“I’m not a fan of enforcing this legislation because of me that’s an indication of failure, the failure being people have not understood how dangerous Covid is. But if I have to enforce I will enforce. It’s not a game. The point is saving lives. Stay at home. Is the sun tan that important? If you really have to do it then do it safely.

“However we will see people with cans of beer, we will see picnics, people visiting people outside of their own households and we will deal with that accordingly.”

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He added: “For us to keep people safe from contracting the virus and dying, do people really want to draw us away from what we’re traditionally there for, which is managing crime and disorder? Managing violence on the streets of London, which there have been incidents of in the past couple of weeks.

If we get drawn to conversations about “this person doesn’t live in my house...”, that’s fine but for every conversation we’re having that’s one less opportunity to stop and search somebody who might be carrying a knife.

“We will be in parks and things and respond accordingly. I have a finite number of offices and it could be they may be dealing with something else that needs their attention more than people for whom having a picnic in a park is so important that the death of somebody else is irrelevant.”