Southampton to introduce new COVID-19 Marshals working alongside police to encourage people to follow guidance

Southampton City Council has been awarded a Home Office government grant of £153,929 to fund COVID-19 Marshals. The Marshals will patrol the city centre and local district centres across Southampton over the winter months, providing non-police support but co-ordinating closely with police colleagues.  

COVID-19 Marshals will be part of a new campaign launching soon to encourage people to play their part in keeping Southampton safe and explain the rules when required. 

In their role COVID-19 Marshals will engage with the public to keep people informed and help them to follow national safety guidelines. They will promote social distancing in public areas where people might congregate such as parks and high streets and play their part in supporting businesses by providing advice to ensure that they are COVID-safe.  

Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Councillor Dave Shields at Southampton City Council said: “Keeping our people who live and work in Southampton safe from COVID-19 is a key priority for the council during these challenging times. We plan to be able to emerge from lockdown in December in a strong position as the city opens up again with hopefully low rates of infection. The Marshals will be one important way in which we can help people and businesses to follow guidance over those crucial winter months, providing support that’s complimentary to the excellent work of the police.

“We have a diverse community living in our city and our COVID-19 Marshals will help ensure that we all stay safe and our local businesses continue to deliver safe services to the public. I look forward to welcoming the COVID-19 Marshals to Southampton.” 

The COVID-19 Marshal programme is a council partnership with the Police and GO! Southampton.

Executive Director at GO! Southampton, Giles Semper said: “It’s vital that we all work together to ensure people living and working in Southampton are safe and our businesses are following national guidance. The COVID Marshals will help to reinforce key information, support businesses and encourage everybody to follow the latest safety guidance, which will be crucial in ensuring our businesses are able to continue trading once reopened, through December and beyond. We look forward to welcoming customers back into the city centre as soon as possible.” 

This new COVID-19 Marshal initiative aligns with the Police’s Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce approach. Although COVID-19 Marshals won’t have enforcement powers they will engage, explain and encourage, and work closely with Hampshire Constabulary colleagues and council Environmental Health Officers who will support them in the rare cases where the situation may escalate.

Chief Inspector at Hampshire Constabulary, Ricky Dhanda said: “Our priority remains keeping our communities safe and we welcome COVID-19 Marshals into the city to help us achieve that. We know the vast majority of people are following the Government’s regulations, making personal sacrifices to do so for which we are grateful. COVID-19 marshals will provide vital support to help businesses operate in a COVID safe environment and encourage people to follow the regulations. Whilst our overall aim is to continue to encourage people to comply fully with the regulations, we will be available to enforce where necessary.”

The COVID-19 Marshal programme will start this month and run until March 2021. For more information, or to report a COVID compliance concern please go here.