Parliament has passed new emergency powers for police across the UK, giving them the ability to enforce restrictions on public movement to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, help the NHS, and save lives in local communities.
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks over members of the public failing to honour government restrictions regarding social distancing and isolation. In an effort to clamp down on those who have ignored the lockdown, the new police powers will enable them to:
- instruct people to go home, leave an area or disperse.
- ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules.
- issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
- issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence.
Anyone who does not pay a fixed penalty notice issued to them under the regulations will be taken to court, where there is no limit on the fine magistrates can impose. If the person still fails to comply with the laws, the police can arrest them where it is considered ‘proportionate and necessary.’
Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “I am reassured and satisfied that we have adequate powers to deal with the threat of this emergency situation and can enforce the new rules.
“We have shifted resources and created capacity across our Force to ensure we have enough officers to enforce these new powers. Our officers and staff are proactively patrolling our communities, stopping people and vehicles to ensure people are not flouting these restrictions. So far I am reassured with the response from our public in Dorset, who in the main are taking sensible steps and are adhering to the advice.
“For some areas of the country, this weekend marks the start of the Easter holidays. Please stay at home. Driving to exercise, visit public locations or beauty spots is not within the spirit of the Government direction and it places additional demand on other sectors.”
What is the public allowed to do under the new rules?
Leaving your home is only currently permitted if strictly necessary, for one of the following reasons:
- Shopping for basic household items, and as infrequently as possible.
- One form of exercise per day, such as walking or cycling alone or with members of your household.
- Any medical need, to provide medical care, or help a vulnerable person.
- Travelling to or from work where working from home is not possible.
“We must all do our part to pull together and protect our loved ones, our friends, colleagues and neighbours,” James Vaughan continued. “These powers are in place to save lives. Please stay at home.”