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Coronavirus Kent: Police chief constable Alan Pughsley says officers cannot enforce social distancing at busy bank holiday beaches

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A police boss has admitted his officers cannot enforce social distancing in busy places, as the late May bank holiday looms.

The long weekend arrives under the most relaxed measures since the lockdown began in March, but there are concerns that beaches could be packed with people ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Watch chief constable Alan Pughsley at this week's police briefing

People flocked to Folkestone, Dymchurch and Herne Bay beaches as temperatures soared to 26°C on Wednesday, May 20, with some complaining that social distancing rules were being ignored.

It comes as campaigns by councillors, MPs and business owners have been imploring sun-seekers to stay away from the beaches during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief constable Alan Pughsley said: "Our job is not to enforce social distancing, it's a guideline rather than a law so we can't do that.

"We can encourage and educate, but the beaches I've had my officers go and see - I've been to one to have a look at - people are socially distancing.

There are concerns beaches could be packed this bank holiday weekend
There are concerns beaches could be packed this bank holiday weekend

"It depends what photograph you look at, it can be deceiving.

"I think most people are complying."

But the police chief admitted that this bank holiday weekend could be more difficult than before for his officers if there are large numbers of people.

He said: "It's absolutely harder to enforce when you're really only dealing with groups and gatherings."

The police chief added: "We've seen more people at the beauty spots, at the beaches on the roads, but I am still very pleased to say the vast majority have been complying with the rules.

The police chief reminded people to stick to lockdown measures
The police chief reminded people to stick to lockdown measures

"The patrol strategy will be focused into areas we think people will attend, and we've got more than enough resources to protect it effectively."

It comes as Kent County Council (KCC) expressed 'serious concerns' about members of the public flocking to the county's most popular beauty spots without regarding the Covid-19 safety measures.

A spokesperson from KCC said: "Of course we want to reinforce the message that exercise and being outdoors is to be encouraged, and Kent has some wonderful beauty spots.

"However, too many people are driving to the same places which, in normal circumstances would not be a problem, but these are not normal times.

"In some cases, car parks and public toilets are closed and there may be reduced staffing."

Minster beach huts on the Isle of Sheppey.
Minster beach huts on the Isle of Sheppey.

At the weekly police briefing, the chief constable also took the opportunity to disagree with the ongoing debate that there should be a review into the use of Tasers in the force.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched a probe after a man in Manchester was Tasered by officers and collapsed on the ground in front of his distressed young son.

He said: "I see no need whatsoever for a review into the use of Taser.

"I decided two years ago every front line officer in this force can carry a Taser.

"Why? Because of the county lines drug dealing activity and the violence they bring, and a huge increase of assaults towards my officers.

"I'm a big supporter of Tasers, it's an approved weapon, there's a massive amount of training before you pass or fail the course."

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