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Commissioner joins Chief Constable urging people to #StayHomeSaveLives

27 March, 2020

Lancashire Police are urging people to play their part in saving potentially thousands of lives in the county as new laws come in to force to help police reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

And today Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner joined Chief Constable Andy Rhodes in reminding people it’s about saving potentially thousands of lives and the police, with the help of our communities, have a vital part to play.

The Government has this week made new public health regulations strengthening police enforcement powers to reduce the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives as part of the Coronavirus Act.

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Complying with government measures is a huge ask for both the public and policing but we’re all in this together. I’d urge people not to put our police under the additional pressure of enforcement. Our officers are needed to fight crime and protect the most vulnerable – please stay at home.

“This is a challenging time for all of us but please be assured that local services are still working hard to support the most vulnerable. Lancashire Victim Services and NEST, supporting young people, remain open with the same commitment to helping people cope and recover after crime.”

Mr Rhodes said: “This is a critical time in the history of Lancashire and we need the help and co-operation of our communities to get through this national emergency.

“We will continue to police by consent and use common sense and understanding but we will take a zero-tolerance approach with people who understand the rules but consciously choose to ignore them.

“During this time you will see an increased visible presence in your communities. We will be patrolling public spaces and engaging with people to make sure they understand the government requirements including the ban on gatherings of more than two people and non-essential journeys.

“If people choose not to comply we will issue fines once they are available for us to use and, if absolutely necessary, arrest people. It’s right that we’re able to enforce the law against those who disregard these measures and put people at risk. The vast majority, however, are complying and we thank them for that.

“These new measures are proportionate and necessary to address the threat this pandemic presents but we will only use them when we need them. We will continue to police by consent where we can and with the trust and help of our communities. We’d also like to thank the vast majority of people who are sticking to the rules and helping to stop the spread of the virus in Lancashire.”

As part of the new law and to ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel if members of the public do not comply the police may:

Instruct them 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.

We are not looking to criminalise people, but to ensure they follow this life saving guidance.

Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the Regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

The new legislation also includes the power to take people police suspect have coronavirus to be tested and the power to close or restrict access to any premises.

Officers will be alert to identifying child safeguarding issues, issues of homelessness, and issues linked to domestic abuse. Where these apply, there may be a viable reason why someone can’t return home, or doesn’t have a home to return to. We will consider appropriate support to these groups, and we’ll be engaging multi-agency resources to ensure individuals get the support and safeguarding they need.

Mr Rhodes added: We will absolutely continue to be there for those that need us – 24/7 responding to emergencies, serious crime and protecting vulnerable people. We are absolutely confident we will continue to have the resources and capability to do this. You can help by only calling us if you really need us. Think carefully before you call 101 – don’t forget you can report crime online at reportitonline.lancashire.police.uk.

“Please don’t call us to ask about the latest government guidance. The best place for the latest information and advice is the gov.uk website – this will help keep phone lines free for people who really need the police to attend.

“We’ve been asked a lot about people travelling to exercise – the rules don’t cover this issue specifically so we will take a common-sense approach. Please bear in mind though that the rules talk about not undertaking any unnecessary travel and we’d ask people to uphold the spirit of that request from the Government.”

We will keep you up to date with what we are doing around Coronavirus – follow our channels at www.lancashire.police.uk on Twitter @lancspolice #COVID19 #StayHomeSaveLives and on Facebook. You can also sign up to the In The Know community messaging service https://www.stayintheknow.co.uk/

You can also tune in to BBC Radio Lancashire for the latest information.

The police response is part of a much wider public sector effort being co-ordinated through the Lancashire Resilience Forum.

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