'We will fine and arrest': West Mercia Police boss issues warning to those flouting lockdown rules
Those ignoring lockdown rules will be fined or arrested if necessary with vehicle checks also taking place, one of the region's top police officers has warned.
West Mercia Police's Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said most businesses and individuals were respecting new lockdown rules, but that a minority that were ignoring them had been advised and dispersed.
He said random road checks will also be carried out across the patch as a way of ensuring journeys are necessary.
His comments came ahead of confirmation that police have been given the power to fine first-time offenders £60 and second-time offenders £120.
Chief Superintendent Harding said: "There is no doubt we are entering a critical phase to our policing response to COVID-19 and we are currently working to focus our resources towards our frontline response.
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"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.
“I’m really pleased to see the majority of people are now listening to government’s request for us to limit non-essential movement as this is helping to support the work of the NHS.
"For the minority who think it’s still OK 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.
“We will also be out speaking with the public and conducting roads policing checks which will involve randomly stopping people to make sure their journey are within the rules.
“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.”
Chief Superintendent Harding said officers themselves are practising social distancing and are 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," he said.
"Our advice to the public remains the same. We’re here in number – if you need us we can be contacted via our website or 999 in an emergency situation."
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