The Welsh Government has been urged to change its mind about expecting police forces to enforce a new law to keep workers two metres apart, it’s been revealed.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is backing the four chief constables in Wales who are unanimously opposed to the idea.
Under the new legislation introduced by the Welsh Government, companies are being told to take “reasonable measures” to ensure the health of their workers.
Employers will be breaking the law if do not make sure that staff are able to maintain the two-metre physical distancing rule
But the rules will not amount to a complete ban on workers being closer than the social distancing guidelines.
Mr Jones, himself a former police inspector, says he fully supports the aim of the legislation but objects to the police being expected to enforce it.
It’s understood that senior figures in the UK Government, including Kit Malthouse MP, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, have also expressed their concern about the idea.
The legislation gives the police and councils the power to enforce the rules with fines of between £60 and £120.
Mr Jones said: “I stand fully behind the four chief constables in Wales who have objected to this.
“I support the legislation but I am totally against the idea of it being enforce by the police.
“It is like using police officers as factory inspectors when North Wales Police and the other Welsh forces have important work of their own to do during the coronavirus crisis.
“The Health and Safety Executive and local authorities should step up to the mark here and do their job – they should take responsibility for enforcement rather than expecting the police to do their job for them.
“The police have an important job to do during normal times but now, more than ever, they need to be able to concentrate on their own role.
“I am sure the public of North Wales would far rather that our police enforce essential travel legislation rather than have them visiting factories to ensure that employees are kept two metres apart which is surely what the Health and Safety Executive should be doing.
“We have raised the matter with the Secretary of State in a conference call.
“I support the legislation to enforce the two-metre rule within the workplace but this issue is who actually is responsible for the enforcement.
“The chief constables have urged the Welsh Government to change their guidelines as a matter of urgency and I am standing shoulder to shoulder with them on this”.