Coronavirus England: Police chief slams leak of second lockdown plan

The chairman of the Police Federation has slammed a 'deeply unhelpful' leak of the Government's plan for a second lockdown which forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce the new measure on Saturday, days earlier than planned.

John Apter said the leak 'created a media frenzy, concern and speculation' at a time when it was important to have 'no blurred lines or confusion around rules'.

Such confusion made effectively policing the new restrictions more difficult, Apter said in a statement on Saturday, adding that it came at a time when officers are 'already under enough pressure'. 

'My colleagues have been doing their best to police restrictions which have changed on a regular basis and have often been confusing...

'We must be clear in what we are asking of the public and what we are expecting of the police. The information from Government must be clear and unambiguous. Anything less makes the policing of this pandemic even more challenging than it is already.

Police officers detain Halloween revellers in Newcastle on Saturday night as Police Federation Chairman John Apter criticised a leak of the Government's lockdown plan

Police officers detain Halloween revellers in Newcastle on Saturday night as Police Federation Chairman John Apter criticised a leak of the Government's lockdown plan

Apter said the fact that the new lockdown was reported in the media before it was officially announced by the government risked creating 'blurred lines and confusion' around new rules. Pictured: Police with Halloween revellers in Newcastle on Saturday

Apter said the fact that the new lockdown was reported in the media before it was officially announced by the government risked creating 'blurred lines and confusion' around new rules. Pictured: Police with Halloween revellers in Newcastle on Saturday

Confusion around new measures makes effectively policing them more challenging, Apter said in a statement on Saturday. Pictured: Police break up an altercation in Newcastle on Saturday night

Confusion around new measures makes effectively policing them more challenging, Apter said in a statement on Saturday. Pictured: Police break up an altercation in Newcastle on Saturday night

Apter said police would continue to work 'around the clock to protect the public' and urged the public 'not to give up' despite the tough new measures.

'The majority of people have been with us all the way and must continue to do so now in order to protect each other and reduce the spread of this virus'.

Apter's comments came as the Prime Minister plunged England into a month-long lockdown – and his party into near civil war.

Pictured: John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales

Pictured: John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales

Cabinet Ministers and Tory MPs warned that the fresh restrictions coming into force on Thursday would devastate the already fragile economy, and they expressed fury that they only learned about the drastic measures through newspaper reports.

At a hastily arranged TV press conference, the Prime Minister said that 'by taking tough action now' he hoped to save Christmas for families. 

Non-essential shops, pubs, gyms and restaurants will close for four weeks, but schools and universities will stay open.

Mr Johnson said the extreme approach – described within Government as 'losing November to save December' – was needed to avoid the 'medical and moral disaster' of overwhelming the NHS. 

Without such measures, he said, doctors and nurses may be forced to choose 'between who lived and who died'.

'We have to be humble in the face of nature,' Mr Johnson told the nation.

However, the announcement represents another Government U-turn, away from the previous strategy of regional restrictions.

The Prime Minister was also forced to bring forward the announcement from Monday after news of the decision leaked from Friday's meeting of the Covid 'Quad': Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove. 

The leak meant most of the Cabinet learned about the lockdown from newspapers rather than from the Prime Minister.

As a furious Mr Johnson announced an immediate leak inquiry, multiple Government sources sought to pin the blame on Mr Hancock by accusing him of trying to 'bump' the Prime Minister into announcing the lockdown before he could have second thoughts. The Health Secretary strenuously denied the claims.

An emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon overran as 'hawks' opposed to the lockdown warned of the dire economic impact and demanded details of a new support package. One Cabinet Minister said they were 'f****** furious', adding: 'Everything is on fire.'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to announce a new lockdown for England earlier than planned after a leak of the plan to the media. England will enter lockdown on Thursday and is expected to emerge on December 2

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to announce a new lockdown for England earlier than planned after a leak of the plan to the media. England will enter lockdown on Thursday and is expected to emerge on December 2

Many Tory backbenchers were in uproar, with some even threatening to vote against the plan in the Commons on Wednesday.

Party whips warned the 2019 intake of Tory MPs from the so-called 'Red Wall' of traditionally Labour seats in the North of England, who have led the opposition, that they 'could kiss their careers goodbye' if they voted against the Government and 'should beware of the D-word – deselection'.

Former Tory Cabinet Minister David Davis said that deciding on a second national lockdown was probably even bigger than 'a decision to go to war' and it was essential that MPs were given a 'substantive vote' on Wednesday, with the chance to amend the motion. 

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle was among those understood to be disappointed that the details were not given first to MPs.

A number of new rules will come into force in England on Thursday as part of a new lockdown

A number of new rules will come into force in England on Thursday as part of a new lockdown

Under the new restrictions, which take effect from a minute past midnight on November 5 and last until December 2:

All pubs and restaurants will close, but takeaways and deliveries will be allowed and only essential shops such as supermarkets, off-licences and newsagents will be allowed to open.

The mixing of people inside homes and gardens will be banned outside of a 'support bubble' while schools, universities and courts will remain open while manufacturing and construction

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