Coronavirus: Met Police’s East Area commander explains police response to Covid-19 in Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham

Det Ch Supt Stephen Clayman of East Area Command. Picture: PA

Det Ch Supt Stephen Clayman of East Area Command. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

“Our policing style is not going to change.” East Area commander Stephen Clayman explains how the Met will be responding across Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham during the coronavirus crisis.

The regional police chief was speaking two days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict restrictions in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.

These included only allowing people to leave their home to shop for basic necessities, travelling to and from work where necessary, for one form of exercise a day with members of the same household and for medical needs.

The PM also announced in his address to the nation that the Government would stop all public gatherings of more than two people and all social events except funerals.

Mr Johnson said the police will have powers to enforce the restrictions, through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Detective chief superintendent Clayman said his officers would not be altering how they police in light of the new measures.

“We’re waiting to see what any legislative provision will look like but, even when that comes in, our stance won’t change in respect of our policing style.

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“Because our policing style is always about engagement, speaking to people, communicating well, influencing people so that isn’t going to change.

“The fact that we may have additional powers on the back of that is only ever used, like any police power, when we absolutely need to.

“We will continue to keep a presence in town centres where we can, that’s really, really important and we will be advising groups of people if we see them to disperse and go home as the Government direction is.

“We will be polite. Our policing style hasn’t changed. All we are doing is reiterating the advice, just to protect people.

“I would like to think most reasonable people will listen and heed the advice that officers give them if it is in their best interests in terms of their health.”

He says the force is used to dealing with crisis and praised its ability to “respond and adapt”, with a drop in demand in aspects of their policing as people are not outside.

“Obviously we still want to keep a close eye on offences that take place in the home, any vulnerable people we need to be aware of and make sure we are still out there to protect them.”

DCS Clayman took up his role at the head of the East Area command in May last year.

He admitted that the local force’s numbers had been affected by coronavirus but was full of praise for officers.

“My colleagues are out there day and night doing the role that they come in to do as an emergency worker which is fantastic. I always pay tribute to them, they are out there doing it and I take my hat off to them. Their professionalism is incredible, they are just getting on with their job, they are in good spirits.

“We just have to make sure they take the right precautions when they are doing their job, which we are doing. People might be surprised when they are attending addresses and they are putting protective kit on but they have to take those sort of precautions.”

Among his advice to residents was to stay aware about the possibility of scams, revealing that he is concerned about criminals taking advantage of the current situation.

He said: “That will anger many people, quite rightly and we will take a very strong line in terms of dealing with people who abuse the situation in that way criminally. We want people to think about their premises and commercial premises to think about security, vulnerabilities, make sure its secure.

“I think these sort of events bring out the best in people and also unfortunately sometimes bring out the worst as well and the factors that bring out the worst in people, we will be ready to deal with that.”

He also reassured residents that the force would continue to deal with the most serious crime during the crisis. But DCS Clayman warned people to only call 999 in an absolute emergency, as the force bids to preserve its resources.

He gave this message directly to residents: “Policing hasn’t stopped, we are still there to support them. We want everyone to follow the Government advice, the public health advice and it is imperative that everyone takes heed and looks after themselves and their families. Ultimately the police are there to support the community.”