EXCLUSIVE: Police chief warns students over lockdown

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The Chief Constable of Merseyside Police has issued a stark warning to young people as Halloween approaches.

In an exclusive interview with JMU Journalism, Andy Cooke outlined his frustration over a ‘minority’ of youngsters, including students, breaking the current lockdown rules.

His message to them was clear: “You’re the future leaders of our country. Start acting like it.”

The chief constable’s comments come just a few days before the Halloween weekend, which under normal circumstances would see thousands of young people gathering at parties.

Merseyside Police are joined by many across Liverpool eager to prevent a repeat of scenes witnessed a fortnight ago, where revellers spilled onto the city centre streets at the 10pm curfew with a concerning disregard for social distancing advice.

Mr Cooke described the actions of those shown in the video above as “irresponsible, childish and dangerous behaviour.” He added: “It puts the city in a bad light – people know what the dangers are.”

Liverpool has a 70,000 strong student population, many of whom have been forced to self-isolate over the past month as Merseyside was moved to Tier 3 lockdown measures recently. The region is now rumoured to be heading towards Tier 4 restrictions, something that Mr Cooke wants to avoid.

He said: “We’re all looking forward to the break over Christmas. The more people that obey the current rules, the quicker we will be out of Tier 3 before it even goes to a Tier 4.

“The vast majority of people are behaving, but a small number aren’t.”

But for some, the threat of fines and police action isn’t enough to prevent lockdown rules being broken. One student from Wavertree, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke about the numerous social gatherings he had hosted over the past few weeks, despite it being illegal.

The chief constable is also mindful of the wellbeing of his officers, and the tough times they can face while trying to keep the public safe but also looking after themselves.

He said: “Don’t forget, the police officers on the front line are going into dangerous situations every day.

“Not just your normal dangerous situations, but into homes where there may be COVID. They’ve got families that they worry about too; families, children, elderly parents. They’re doing their best in difficult circumstances to keep the community safe, at their own risk.

“Police officers, whenever there is a crisis, pull together. They’ve all been working really hard and they’re tired, but they’re still doing an outstanding job.”

Mr Cooke experienced first-hand the physical effects coronavirus can have when he contracted the virus in January. He was bed-ridden for two weeks and unable to leave his house, having to rely on his wife and daughter for support.

He said: “I’ve never known anything like it before. Those who say that it doesn’t exist, or that it’s all a myth, need to think again.

“It had me confined to one room for two weeks, not because of the legislation, but because I really couldn’t move. That’s how badly it hit me.”

Listen to chief constable Cooke’s advice to young people, including his daughters who are university age>>> 





About Wes Powell, JMU Journalism