Suffolk Constabulary is thanking the public and businesses after last week’s plea urging them to comply with government measures restricting people’s movements to tackle coronavirus.
Officers were given the powers on Thursday last week (March 26), to fine people who refuse to stay at home and only go outside if they have a “reasonable excuse”.
So far, the force has not yet issued any fixed penalty notices in relation to the formal powers. However, if considered necessary, police may take enforcement action if people are not listening and putting others at risk. Officers will apply their discretion and will ask questions to establish individual circumstances.
Chief Constable Steve Jupp 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. 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. They are doing outstanding work in challenging times.”
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.