A WEST Mercia Police chief has said he is confident local communities would work with the police to help support the NHS by staying at home and complying with the COVID-19 regulations.
The words from Ch Supt Tom Harding came as new legislation was introduced where people could be initially fined £60 or £120 for a second offence.
Police in England have new powers to stop people leaving their house ‘without reasonable excuse’.
Those reasons include –
- Shopping for basic necessities, such as food and medicine.
- One session of exercise, such as a run, walk or cycle.
- For a medical need or help a vulnerable person.
- People can also travel to and from work but only if they are a key worker and the work cannot be done from home.
The measures came into force yesterday and will last six months, with a review every three weeks.
To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential journeys, officers will be able to order people to go home, leave an area or disperse.
The new powers mean officers can:
- Ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
- Issue a £60 fixed penalty, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
- Issue a £120 fixed penalty for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence
- Anyone who does not pay can be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
Ch Supt Tom Harding said there was no doubt the nation was entering a critical phase to our policing response to COVID-19 and everyone was currently working to focus our resources towards our frontline response.
“I’m confident our communities will work with us and we will support them by educating and guiding where we can.
“We’re engaging with business and individuals – the majority of whom are respecting the new rules to protect themselves and their families.
“However, a small minority have been advised and dispersed.
“The advice is simple – stay home, save lives.”
He added he was pleased to see the majority of people were listening to Government’s request to limit non-essential movement as this was helping to support the work of the NHS.
“For the minority who think it’s still okay to ignore the warnings then we won’t shy aware from using our enforcement powers to protect our communities.
“We will direct, fine and arrest if necessary.”
He warned officers would be conducting patrols, road policing checks and randomly stopping people to ensure everyone’s journey was necessary.
“This global pandemic is a national emergency and I am sure we will all work together to help protect the elderly, the vulnerable and those most at risk in our communities. By following the national advice we can all help to make a difference.”
He added his officers were themselves practising social distancing and were working alongside the same colleagues to prevent them coming into contact with more people than is absolutely necessary.
“Our chief officers will continue to work closely with our partners both locally and nationally to ensure we all provide the service needed to keep the public safe and informed.
“Our advice to the public remains the same.
“We’re here in number – if you need us and we can be contacted via our website or 999 in an emergency situation.”