Why you might not be seeing many Covid marshals anytime soon

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Why you might not be seeing many Covid marshals anytime soon

The idea of a small army of Covid marshals in towns and cities enforcing the ‘rule of six’ has been rubbished by local councils.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the marshals would make sure the rules of social distancing were being followed after the announcement of new lockdown rules for the country.

But according to the BBC, many councils have been left confused by the announcement, with questions left unanswered over how the scheme would work and how it would be funded.

Pressed for further information in the House of Lords, communities minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “Local authorities are best placed to determine the model of deployment and responsibilities of marshals in their areas.

“We do not expect to set national targets for the number of marshals, but rather to work with local authorities to encourage them to consider using marshals where appropriate.”

Further details would be forthcoming, he added.

But several councils have reported that no extra resources have been offered to get the scheme off the ground.

Earlier this week, Ministers were pressed in Parliament over safeguards to stop “Covid-secure marshals” becoming “busy bodies, score settlers and simply social gunslingers”.

Tory grandee Lord Dobbs lambasted the posts announced as part of a plan to enforce stricter rules on social gatherings, arguing it “sounded like the most un-Conservative policy” and that their title was “a terrible name to start with”.

The House of Cards author said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “made it sound like Dodge City” at a news conference where he said the marshals would “boost the local enforcement capacity” with the introduction of new restrictions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Labour also poured scorn on the move as “a latest flight of fantasy” from Downing Street, which it claimed was aimed at distracting attention from its bungled handling of the pandemic.

The Government has already said the marshals will have no formal powers and must be paid for by local authorities.

But Lord Dobbs, a former Tory party deputy chairman, said: “This sounds like the most un-Conservative policy and has the potential of being a really terrible idea.

“Marshals is a terrible name to start with. The Prime Minister said that these marshals will be appointed to ensure – not advise, assist or support – but ensure social distancing in our communities. He made it sound like Dodge City.”

He added: “Can the minister calm my racing heart by telling the House what training will the marshals have to ensure that they enforce the regulations and, perhaps most importantly of all, what’s to prevent too many of these largely self-appointed law enforcers, from becoming busy bodies, score settlers and simply social gunslingers?”

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