‘The message does seem to be getting through’ - Police issue no fines under new Covid-19 powers
PUBLISHED: 14:23 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:30 31 March 2020
No fines have yet been issued by Suffolk police under new powers brought in to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the force has confirmed.
Officers were given the powers last week to fine people who do not comply with the rules of staying at home unless for daily exercise, shopping for essential food or medicine or travelling to and from essential work.
The force is thanking the public and businesses for their compliance after the government enforced the unprecendented measures to restrict people’s movements in the fight against the virus.
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But Chief Constable Steve Jupp stressed that, if necessary, action will be taken against anyone “flouting the rules”.
He said: “Overall, the message does seem to be getting through – compliance with these regulations is an absolute priority to save people’s lives and protect the NHS.
“We will continue to police by consent. We will engage, explain the circumstances and encourage people to do the right thing in complying with the government request.
“This is absolutely a community effort. We have no desire to use the formal powers now made available to policing, but it’s right that we’re able to enforce against those who disregard these measures and put people at risk.
“The vast majority are following the government requests, and we thank them.
“If people see people flouting the rules we want the public to exercise common sense. We will not be able to dispatch officers for minor infringements. Clearly mass gatherings of people is not a minor infringement and we would want to know about that so we can deal with it.
“I would like 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.”
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Police can issue penalty notices of £30, rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days, where they have reason to believe there has been an offence under the regulations.
Mr Jupp also paid tribute to officers, and other key workers for their “outstanding work” during the pandemic.
“I’d also take this opportunity to pay tribute to all our police officers and staff who alongside emergency workers, NHS staff and other key workers are on the frontline,” he added.
“They are doing outstanding work in challenging times.”
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