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Top cop tells ‘supposedly mature adults’ to respect social distancing and not waste police time

PUBLISHED: 15:12 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:21 25 March 2020

Ch Supt Raj Kohli. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Ch Supt Raj Kohli. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

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The top cop in Islington and Camden has told the “supposedly mature adults” ignoring social distancing guidelines to start listening so his officers don’t have to waste their time dishing out fines.

Ch Supt Raj Kohli, who leads the Central North Basic Command Unit spanning both boroughs, hit out at people congregating in large groups in parks and outside shops.

“It’s not young people, it’s adults that are the problem,” he told this paper. “There are adults on the street as if nothing has changed. People in their 20s and beyond.

“In Blackstock Road on Tuesday there were as many people as usual, and Hampstead Heath was madness at the weekend.”

Boris Johnson announced a ban on public gatherings in his address on Monday night. Fines starting at £30 will be handed out to dispersing gatherings, and failure to pay could lead to criminal proceedings and a summary conviction.

Ch Supt Kohli said he doesn’t understand why people haven’t listened, but said: “It’s got to stop.”

He continued: “I’d like to take anyone having barbecues or parties in parks to any hospitals in London and say: ‘Is that what you want? Because this is what you are giving us’.

“We are going to try and persuade people to go inside, but we will enforce it if we have to. We don’t want to, we have more important things to be doing than telling supposedly mature adults to read the newspapers. But we will.”

Ch Supt Kohli said the state of crime was changing as a result of the lockdown, with less people out committing low level crimes.

But he again insisted if anyone calls 999, police will be there.

“Things might get difficult staffing wise but we have a plan,” he said. “I might have to stop neighbourhood policing teams. I might have to take people out of Blackstock Road because they need to be elsewhere. But if someone calls 999 police will turn up.”

The borough commander said he was concerned about what will happen further down the line. He added: “The worry is what public sector funding might look like when this is over. The government has positioned itself to minimise loss of earnings and at some point that may need to be reclaimed somewhere. This is not political – the government needed to do something and it has. But we don’t know what the impact is going to be later on.”

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