The rapid and deadly spread of COVID-19 has led governments to seek to curtail social interactions between citizens in order to slow the spread of the virus. On 26th March 2020, UK police gained new powers and responsibilities under the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. These new pieces of primary and secondary legislation made provisions for regulating the behaviour of individuals, households and businesses to reduce dramatically the opportunities for the virus to spread from one individual to another. Some people, including some police officers, have already expressed concerns about police responses to the new powers, regulations and government advice, and about the potential for the police response to have lasting consequences for their relationship with the public. Our research seeks to understand the impact of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on the work of police officers in the United Kingdom, specifically how individual officers understand, respond to and feel about their role in supporting efforts to contain the spread of the virus. The central research question is "How do police officers make sense of, experience and use the new powers and responsibilities they have obtained through the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020?"
This project is an exploratory pilot study comprising 20 semi-structured online interviews.