The UK Police Force have played a front-line role in enforcing government lockdown rules during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Newspapers have tended to focus on the more dramatic incidents of police handing out strict penalty notices to those breaching lockdown rules.
For example, this news item in the Sun from January 2021.
However, sociology students need to ask themselves how representative such cases are of the way the police more generally have conducted themselves during lockdown.
Based on a review of police interactions with the public during the Pandemic, the research found that most police forces in the UK successfully adopted government guidelines and spent most of their time engaging, explaining and encouraging people to obey lockdown rules rather than bluntly enforcing them with fixed penalty notices for people not wearing masks for example.
The ratio of ‘engage/ explain/ encourage’ to ‘enforce’ has been more than 10-1.
So while the police HAVE been enforcing lockdown rules with strict penalties in some cases, in more than 90% of interactions they have taken a much gentler approach, suggesting policing during the pandemic has been closer to a left-realist type of control rather than a right realist type of control.