Police: ‘we will use powers’

Just Regional
Mar 31, 2020 3 mins read

People who flout the rules about social distancing and isolation have been warned that the police will be making sure the government measures to restrict movement are followed through engagement, reassurance and – where necessary – enforcement.

Officers were given the powers on March 26 to fine those who refuse to stay at home and go outside without “reasonable excuse” following the introduction of government measures to tackle Covid-19.

To date, (Tuesday, March 31), Norfolk Constabulary has used its formal powers only once – following an incident in Great Yarmouth when a woman repeatedly ignored officers’ requests to return home on three separate occasions. The woman, who is in her 40s, was reported for the offence and will receive a summons to attend magistrates’ court in due course.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “The majority of people are already making sacrifices to save lives, and we continue to urge everyone to follow the advice that is designed to keep us all safe.

“We police by consent in this country, and my officers follow a very fair four-step escalation model with the public and businesses.

“Our focus is to reassure, inform and engage with people so they understand why these restrictions are in place. Our communities are looking out for each other and listening to the government’s message to stay at home, and I thank them for that. Complying with these regulations is an absolute priority to save people’s lives and protect our NHS.

“We will always try to disperse people rather than use enforcement but it’s also right that we act against the few who choose to break the rules and disregard these measures and put people’s lives at risk.”

And he urged people who saw others flouting the rules to “exercise common sense”.

“We will not be able to dispatch officers for minor infringements,” he said. “Clearly mass gatherings of people are not a minor infringement and we want to know about these so we can deal with them.

“It’s also important to add that people who deliberately spit and cough on emergency workers as well as members of the public will be dealt with robustly. This is an offence and it will be treated as assault.”

“I’d also take this opportunity to pay tribute to all our officers, staff and Special Constables who, alongside emergency workers, NHS staff and other key workers, are on the frontline. They are doing outstanding work in challenging times.”

People are being encouraged to report non-urgent crimes or concerns via online reporting at http://www.norfolk.police.uk/. Only dial 999 in an emergency or if you believe a crime to be in progress. Non-urgent crimes can be reported via 101.

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