More police officers on patrol in Coventry amid coronavirus outbreak

Officers from specialist teams, such as the Football and Airport Units, have been redeployed to key locations such as hospitals and supermarkets.

West Midlands Police are in the process of shuffling their policing pack to ensure as many officers as possible are out and about keeping people safe in communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officers from specialist police teams, such as the Football and Airport Units, plus some traffic cops, have been redeployed to provide reassurance and a visible presence at key locations such as hospitals and supermarkets. 

They’re encouraged to safely engage with people to reinforce the government’s instruction to say at home to stifle the spread of the disease and save lives.

West Midlands Police have said they are urging people to only head outdoors to buy essential food or medical supplies, for exercise or to help vulnerable people. 

Other officers from Operational Planning – normally busy preparing for major events like protests, festivals or music concerts – have been retasked to help plan the ever-evolving response to the coronavirus.

With some police training temporarily on hold, specialists including firearms instructors have been deployed to support armed police on the streets.

Superintendent Beth Bridges from the West Midlands Police operations department, said: “These are unprecedented times and we are constantly reviewing all our policing activity to make the best use of every single one of our officers.

“With far fewer vehicles on our roads, we’re now tasking many of our traffic units to patrol key locations including shops and hospitals, and with fewer flights into and out of Birmingham, we’ve also agreed with the airport to free up some PCs for patrols in Coventry and Solihull.

“The position has changed rapidly over the last couple of weeks and we’ve had to be flexible to ensure we’re helping the public as best we can.”

Police officers are on patrol with the intent of educating anyone who is unclear what’s being asked of them and encouraging compliance with the government’s instruction, but they do now have powers to disperse groups, instruct people to go home, and issue fines to those who ignore the advice.

West Midlands Police has urged the public to use common sense, adding that they will not be able to dispatch officers for minor infringements.