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Police and travel industry react angrily to Matt Hancock lockdown texts

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Ministers have come under fire from police officers and the travel industry after private messages from Matt Hancock highlighted the rapid and occasionally haphazard way in which they wrote Covid lockdown policies.Senior representatives of the police service attacked the government’s handling of the pandemic after the Telegraph published messages showing the former health secretary urging ministers to “get heavy with the police” over lockdown enforcement.Officers were criticised in 2020 and 2021 for their hardline interpretation of the regulations, which involved them monitoring people with drones, fining people going for walks with cups of coffee and handing out leaflets asking why people were outside.The former chief constable of Greater Manchester police Sir Peter Fahy told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: “This [lockdown] legislation was rushed out: it was confused, with poor definitions in it, there was this constant confusion between what was legislation and what was guidance.

Often it seemed ministers themselves didn’t understand the impact of the legislation.”He said it caused “huge resentment within policing” when “individual instances of officers trying to do their best were highlighted and misunderstood”.The chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Martin Hewitt, criticised Hancock’s use of the word “plod” in the messages, saying it was “much more a reflection on him than it is on the committed police officers and staff on the frontline protecting the country from Covid-19”.Hancock also came under fire from Willie Walsh, the head of the travel industry body Iata, for another set of messages that showed him complaining about airlines and joking about people having to be quarantined in hotels on

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