Enforcement of Kent permit system will put ‘extra demand’ on officers
The chair of Kent Police Federation has reacted angrily to government plans for the police to enforce a new permit system for lorries entering Kent that will place unnecessary “extra demand” on officers.
Neil Mennie said day-to-day policing cannot be “stored in a convenient cupboard” while officers are called on to police the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said the Kent Access Permit (KAT) system for lorry drivers is designed to help avoid queues of up to 7,000 trucks around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel after the Brexit transition period ends.
He told the Commons this week that the KAT system would be enforced by police and automatic numberplate recognition cameras.
But Mr Mennie said: “Increasingly of late politicians are giving guarantees to the public about what the police will enforce as Covid rules and regulations are wheeled out at breakneck speed.
“We have heard about ‘extra’ officers on the streets enforcing the Covid laws. The phrase extra officers very rarely means what it suggests, as colleagues will know.
“The tone seems to have shifted to more of an expectation around enforcement and more emphasis on the last E of the Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce strategy we have been using very wisely to date.
“Now here in Kent we hear about a potential extra demand on checking the validity of lorry paperwork to avoid chaos during our exit from the EU.”
He added: “The usual policing business, of which there is a considerable amount, can’t be stored in a convenient cupboard while both Covid and Brexit loom large.
“The process of prioritising demand and utilising precious and hard-working officers is quite simply a matter for the police not politicians.
“Discretion is key to what our colleagues do and quite rightly so they will enforce when it’s judged by them to be appropriate.”
Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said the force participated in the consultation related to the KAT and was continuing to engage with the Government and other partners within the Kent Resilience Forum on how it will be enforced.
She said it formed part of its “ongoing work to keep Kent moving in the event of traffic disruption following the end of the EU transition period”.