Blog: Lockdown

So the lockdown was extended last week for at least another 21 days, which was probably not surprising to most of us. The death toll has been tragically high and we know the virus can attack anyone, so we really do need to stay home to keep ourselves safe.

Front line workers continue to push themselves to the limit often at great personal risk. Their commitment and dedication to the cause is extraordinary and for that we should all be particularly grateful – from health and care staff to the emergency services and the huge numbers of volunteers who have risen to the challenge. Times are pretty difficult across Suffolk and the rest of the country.

Fortunately, the vast majority of us are following the government’s instructions and staying at home except for essential journeys. Our Constabulary continues to do an excellent job in difficult circumstances enforcing as necessary the “stay at home” message. I believe the balance struck by our officers is about right – by the end of the Easter Bank Holiday, only 95 enforcement penalty notices had been issued countywide, which I think demonstrates a measured approach by the Constabulary.

Her Majesty’s recent address and Easter message to the country was excellent, striking exactly the right tone and giving us all hope and belief that we will meet again, and emerge from these dark times with positive thoughts and fresh purpose. Now really is the time to work together for the benefit of all.

Many people are justifiably deeply concerned about the future – how many more jobs will be lost and what effect will there be on their families and general wellbeing?

The government has committed vast sums of money to help businesses, charities and individuals at levels never seen during peacetime. This alone will not be enough. I think there will be fundamental changes to our lifestyles and patterns of work.

Sooner or later our thoughts must turn to rebuilding our economy, communities and public services, in spite of the numerous challenges ahead. This will require hard graft, determination and a collective approach so ideally we can all benefit. Suffolk has done it before and I’m optimistic we will do it again successfully. Some believe when times are desperate opportunities for improvement can be found and they may well be right and we’ve all heard the phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention”.

It’s pleasing to see the level of recorded crime has decreased since the lockdown commenced, but please remember criminals are still active and it is imperative all of us continue reporting criminality and anti-social behaviour. Offenders must still be brought to justice and victims’ needs satisfied.

One area of recovery I am involved in locally is criminal justice. The system is under severe pressure as no Crown Court hearings are taking place in Suffolk, and the number of magistrates’ hearings has slowed to a trickle. Consequently, there is an ever-increasing backlog of hearings all of which will need to be heard as soon as possible. For many citizens the old adage of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ holds true so our plans will be addressing this backlog as a matter of urgency.

Elsewhere plans are being drawn up to tackle the economic, health, social and environmental challenges that lie ahead. Maybe the county needs a kind of Marshall plan that helped rebuild Europe after world war two.

Finally, let’s keep going and stick to the government instruction and stay at home – it would be a absolute tragedy if society lost its patience and jeopardised the hard-won gains of the last few weeks.

I hope you will all keep safe and well.

Published in the Bury Free Press April 2020