How can a country abide a government that consistently says one thing and then does the exact opposite? Whether it’s lockdown two, lockdown three, or masks in schools, the government has consistently stated one thing and then changed its mind months, weeks, or even hours later.
This not only exacerbates the problem of trust in politicians, but in ‘the science’, which they have clutched as a shield to cower behind whilst making political decisions. The latest example is the shifting of the goalposts around when lockdown will finally end. Ministers began by saying they would ‘cry freedom’ when the vulnerable were vaccinated, but now it seems entirely possible that we will still face restrictions even after everyone is offered a vaccine.
This erosion of trust is having a particularly stark impact on policing. In November, I discussed my concern that the government’s ever-changing and punitive approach to the policing of lockdown restrictions could drive social unrest. Concerned this would lead to growing public frustration with restrictions no longer seen as legitimate, I felt that I could no longer police the coronavirus regulations and resigned as a special constable last year. Indeed, such public frustrations appear to have come to pass. Sadly, police officers from my previous force recently suffered injuries after some protestors in Bristol resorted to violence, and in cities such as Nottingham, authorities have decided to close parks due to fighting between groups of young people.
The police are charged with upholding laws passed by politicians. And without much (or let’s face it, any) parliamentary scrutiny, and an all but horizontal opposition, these laws are passed with no checks and balances to test whether they are reasonable or proportionate. The government have given the police an impossible task this year, and the constantly changing and conflicting messages the public receive makes policing the restrictions a ‘no