A message from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne OBE, at the end of our first week in ‘lockdown’.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone on the frontline who are selflessly helping in the fight against Coronavirus. These key workers and thousands of volunteers are facing the same daily challenges as the rest of us whilst also putting in long shifts in difficult circumstances. I applaud you all.
We can all play our part by staying at home and cooperating as fully as possible with the new restrictions so as not to put unnecessary strain on our emergency services.
We are rightly proud of our policing by consent model in this country but there is no doubt that there will be significant challenges in the weeks ahead as police and local authorities try to ensure that Sussex residents and businesses comply with these new measures.
The police do not want to have to use their new enforcement powers. They will instead talk to people and encourage and persuade them to do the right thing. However, if a small minority insist upon acting selfishly and recklessly, officers will enforce the law.
The Chief Constable has reassured me that Sussex Police has well-established contingency plans for dealing with major incidents including epidemics. The force will still be there to respond when you need them but I'm asking the public to be mindful of when they contact the police at this time, refraining from reporting people you may just see on the streets.
This crisis is already bringing out the best in people who legitimately want to help but it can also attract opportunists and callous criminals who seek to capitalise on our most vulnerable.
I urge residents to heed police advice issued this week around ‘coronavirus scammers’ and to be extra vigilant at this time. Reports have already come in across the country of fraud related to the pandemic.
Nationally there have been hundreds of reports to Action Fraud of online shopping scams where people have ordered hand sanitiser etc. that never arrive. There have also been reports of coronavirus 'phishing' emails, attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information.
The National Cyber security Centre is offering advice on looking after your devices and Sussex Police's Operation Signature offers further information on how to keep yourself safe from unwanted callers. It’s important that we are all especially vigilant and that we keep ourselves scam aware.
We will all have to make what I hope are temporary sacrifices but, it’s more important than ever, that we all co-operate as fully as possible.
Now is the time to stay at home, protect our vital NHS and save lives.
Katy Bourne OBE
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner