Like all other forces throughout the UK and Northern Ireland, Leicestershire Police now has dispersal powers to help ensure everyone adheres to the social distancing guidance laid out by the Government and Public Health England.
These powers have been granted under the Health Regulations 2020 and came into effect today (Thurs).
What does this mean for you?
• Police will be able to disperse groups of more than two people from any public place
• Groups of more than two people – who live in the same household – are permitted
• Anyone who refuses to disperse will be given a £60 fixed penalty notice, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days
• Second-time offenders will be issued with a £120 fixed penalty notice – this will then double on each further repeat offence
• Anyone who does not pay a fixed penalty notice under the new regulations could be taken to court, where magistrates will be able to impose unlimited fines
• Anyone who refuses to comply will be acting unlawfully and may be arrested, but only if it is deemed proportionate and necessary
Officers will be out and about in the community to ensure that people are complying with the law.
Leicestershire Police will be employing an engage, explain and encourage an approach which may include interactions in public places and in vehicles.
In situations where encouragement does not succeed, officers will enforce the legislation.
“First and foremost, these new measures are in place to saves lives and protect our loved ones,” explains Assistant Chief Constable Julia Debenham.
“We will be helping to enforce the terms of the regulations, as the public would want us to.
“Our advice very much remains the same – and echoes that of both the Government and healthcare professionals. Stay at home and help us overcome the outbreak.
“I believe – as do our officers – that the best way to engage with the public is to communicate.
“This is how we aim to resolve issues.
“We want to listen to the queries, concerns and thoughts of the public and do our best to help.
“If you are out in public, in a group of more than two people, officers will ask that you separate.
“The current advice is to ensure that we distance ourselves from one another to prevent the virus from spreading.”
ACC Debenham said the force has received calls from the public to reports of gatherings as well as non-essential businesses remaining open.
Working with the force’s partners, Leicestershire Police is providing a ‘proportionate response’ to public concerns around groups or businesses that may be contravening the legislation and will identify any areas of continual public concern.
“We’re also receiving a number of calls about what you can and can’t do.
“Again, please use common sense.
“Guidance states that you should stay at home and only go out for essential shopping, if you have medical needs or if it’s necessary for you to travel to and from work.
“The Government and Public Health England have stated you can leave your property for one form of exercise a day.
“As a force, our message remains clear – stay at home, save lives,” added ACC Debenham.