Break lock-down rules and risk criminal record.
People who flout new lock-down rules face a criminal record as police press on with enforcement despite a wait for new powers to be enacted.
From Thursday police can issue a fine to those who break the rules. Those who refuse to pay will face prosecution, according to Boris Johnson’s spokesman. Forces across the country have had to disperse gatherings today, including a barbecue party of more than 20 people. West Midlands police posted an image of a barbecue that had been kicked over with food scattered on the floor. Northamptonshire police confirmed that the force would be using drones to monitor for public gatherings.
Officers in Nottinghamshire and Dorset have already begun stopping vehicles to check where the occupants are going and advise them as to whether they should be out. Police have warned people not to call the 101 non-emergency line to ask whether they have permission to leave their homes. They reported an “influx of calls”, including someone asking if they could go to church to practice the organ.
Break lock-down rules and risk criminal record. Ninety-three per cent of Britons support the lockdown, according to a YouGov survey conducted after the prime minister addressed the nation last night. Boris Johnson declares emergency in address to the nation Senior officers have admitted, however, that the new powers they need for enforcement will not be in place until Thursday.
Police chiefs demanded clarification over the application of the new rules and warned that widely differing interpretations could sow confusion and stretch services. Questions remained over whether couples who are not living in the same household could meet outside their homes. A British Transport Police spokeswoman said that the force would “be on hand” to help limit numbers using Tube and train services to those making “essential journeys”.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, told Today on BBC Radio 4 that police would have to use persuasion initially until new enforcement powers were made available under emergency legislation. Mr Hewitt said: “These are new rules, they are trying to be as clear as they can, but it will take a while, I think, for everybody to get that understanding.” Sir Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, told BBC Breakfast: “There is a huge amount of clarification needed”.
“There is no way, really, that the police can enforce this using powers; it has got to be because the public hugely support it, that there is peer pressure and there is continuing clarification from government about the message and going through all the individual scenarios and questions that people will have about what happens in this situation. “It feels like, in the next few days, we will need an implementation period, but the key thing is that the public accept that this is absolutely vital if lives are to be saved.” Sir Peter warned that police forces were “already very stretched” and that questions would arise about whether officers had powers of arrest if tasked with dispersing groups. “We don’t really want 43 separate police forces in England and Wales interpreting this in different ways and individual officers being faced with real dilemmas about whether to allow this or not to allow it,” Sir Peter said.
Break lock-down rules and risk criminal record. Mr Hewitt said that while laws were being put in place police should urge people to go home. Asked whether it was the role of police to check if people should be boarding trains, he said: “I don’t think we’re at that stage at the moment.” Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents officers in London, told Sky News the new measures would be a “real challenge”. He said: “We will be dealing with it, but I’m not sure we will have the resources to be able to see it through.”
Policing sources said that in light of the measures in other countries officers may need powers to compel the public to answer questions about their reasons for being on the street and to disperse gatherings for public protection from the virus. In extreme circumstances, the sources said, there may have to be roadblocks, which need to be signed off at chief officer level.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said all non-essential travel must stop as trains in the capital remained crowded. He urged the government to expedite further support for the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts who he said faced no choice but to work.
The mayor demanded that employers enable their staff to work from home “unless it’s absolutely necessary”, adding: “Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.”
He said “growing numbers” of TfL staff are off sick or self-isolating, which means “we cannot run more services than we currently are”. “Many of those still travelling to work today are on zero-hour contracts, work in the gig economy or are freelancers. A proper package of support for these workers would alleviate this situation and help public transport, and I’ve raised this with the government.” Jails in England and Wales have been put on immediate lockdown with all visits cancelled, according to the union which represents prison officers.
Information and Images are shared from an Article by Francis Elliott, Political Editor | John Simpson, Crime Correspondent , published at The Times, London, UK, on March 24th, 2020. Image Credit: Leon Neal / Getty Images, 2020.