WREXHAM'S police officers and its people have a big part to play in making sure the county or the country as a whole does not go into a second lockdown.

As a local lockdown was imposed in Rhondda Cynon Taf in the south, the Leader joined the policing team tasked with keeping people in Wrexham informed and safe.

Policing a town like Wrexham changes day by day, never more so than during the current coronavirus pandemic, which Sergeant Simon Williams says is the biggest issue for the team right now.

During a walk around the town centre, Sgt Williams explained how the town's officers take on the responsibility of educating people about the latest guidance from the Welsh Government, and in some instances the UK Government.

The Leader:

Sgt Simon Williams in Wrexham

He said getting the information across and making sure people adhere to it was vital if a second lockdown is to be prevented.

Sgt Williams said: "If behaviours don't change then the likelihood is that we will see another lockdown."

"It's massive that we contribute to that because people look to the police. When a law is passed, whether it's criminal or not, people look to the police as experts in that."

He added: "We are dealing with a worldwide pandemic, if we hit another lockdown, there will be reasons behind it which is why people have a part to play. How people go and deal with that is by listening to the advice and the best they can adhering to that advice. It's not something that is done lightly and it is a difficult job for the government to undertake to ensure that we're not going to hit another lockdown, but that might be something that does occur if people's behaviours don't alter."

Since the rule of six and other measures were introduced in Wales on Monday, Sgt Williams said that people in Wrexham should use their common sense when deciding on whether to report perceived breaches, and that a sense of community spirit also had a part to play.

The Leader:

Members of Wrexham's policing team (from left) PCSO Sara Williams, PC Graham Bailey, PCSO Tim Edwards, and PCSO Sadie Roberts

Sgt Williams added: "It's important that we play a part in that and that the Wrexham public play a part in that. We would ask them if it was a criminal matter or a particular problem in Wrexham for their support. We always try and work with the public to get to where we need to and this is no different.

"This is a problem we are facing on a world wide scale, and we've all got our part to play."

His advice is to think when deciding whether to involve the police.

He said: “You've got to take a common sense approach to it.

"It's very difficult to manage the pace of one person walking to another. We don't walk with two metre rulers so its very difficult to know if you are two metres apart. What we advise people is if they think there is a direct breach then let us know and we or one of our partners will put something in place. We'd never discourage people from calling us, but it just needs to be that common sense approach.

"If someone is clearly having a house party with 30 people in the back garden then that is something we need to look at. But six people walking a bit close to each other because they are picking kids up from school, then you need to ask is that something you think the police need to be dealing with. I'd say the answer to that is probably no.

"It's about looking out for each other. If there are instances of burglary or other serious offences we would ask members of the community to keep an eye out for each other.

“If you're going to have a house party and invite 30 people round then you are affecting your community. You just need to have that community spirit and adhere to the conditions."

He said that how Wrexham would respond to a second lockdown was a difficult to predict.

He said: "I feel from a personal point of view that people might struggle with it, because of the uncertainty around job security and the financial aspect of it. Not necessarily the things police are experts at but it becomes an issue for us because the people are desperate. They'll look at foodbanks, they'll look at potentially losing properties, and it becomes a big social problem."

Sgt Williams said that enforcing coronavirus regulations was not Wrexham Neighbourhood Policing Team's priority, their role is often to make sure people know what the latest restrictions are.

He said: "Our stance for North Wales Police, as it has pretty much been for all Welsh forces, is there are four things we look to do – engage, explain, educate and then enforcement is the other option. We will focus on the first three because it is difficult enough in the times that we're in for people to adjust to the new way and to adjust to the new regulations. We've had months of lockdown and we are coming out of lockdown and the rule and regulations are changing one day to the next."

He added: "It's important that we as an organisation show that we are adhering to those guidelines but that also that we are educating the public. Because you could read something or hear something that's coming from the Welsh ministers and interpret it in a different way. We focus on the first three 'es' rather than the enforcement aspect of it because a lot of people might not know.

"But in some scenarios enforcement is the only option.”

Sgt Williams added that police officers are taught to process and adapt to new information from day one, often a situation can change in the course of a six minute car ride to the scene where an incident has been reported.

It is this mentality that is helping them stay informed and pass on that information from ministers to the public in Wrexham.

He added: "It's natural for us really because policing changes week to week for us, but keeping on top of the government advice is important. Because we are so close to the English border, the conflicting advice and difference in legislation, we have to make sure we are on top of things not only from Wales but from the English government as well. We will get visitors coming in from across the border and what we apply here is different than what they do in England in certain aspects, although some of it is the the same.

"So what we do here is use briefings, my team in the safer neighbourhoods have briefings twice daily and we'll push that message out as part of the briefing mechanism so that staff are understanding and clear what the guidelines are.

"We have got to keep on top of that and understand it, not only for our own protection but for others as well."