Priti Patel ramps up police enforcement!

Police enforce lockdown measures against a protest in support of Julian Assange outside Westminster Magistrates Court last week

‘OUR police officers are now moving more quickly to issue fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations,’ Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the 5pm daily press conference yesterday adding: ‘Nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued across the United Kingdom.

‘So my message today to anyone refusing to do the right thing is simple,’ she continued, ‘if you do not play your part our police officers will enforce the regulations and I will back them to do so.’

Fines start at £200 for the first offence, rising to £10,000.

Patel went on: ‘We remain locked in a fight against coronavirus. The pandemic has occupied our lives for many months and we are now grappling with the emergence of a new more infectious strain.

‘We should all act like we have Covid in order to save lives.

‘We are therefore asking you to stay at home.

‘As of today, two million four hundred and thirty one thousand, six hundred and forty eight have been vaccinated across the United Kingdom.

‘Today 45,533 have tested positive for coronavirus

‘As of 10th January 35,075 are currently in hospital with coronavirus, that is an increase of 22% from this time last week.

‘And sadly, of those who have tested positive for coronavirus across all settings, 83,203 people have died. 1,043 fatalities were reported yesterday.’

Martin Hewitt, Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council said: ‘A stubborn number of people have refused to abide by the regulations and we had to use enforcement powers.’

He added: ‘Ten months on the rules are clear and I urge everyone to abide by them.

‘Since October we have been guiding our officers to move more quickly to issuing a fine where people are clearly breaching regulations and are not listening to us.

‘We will have more officers out on dedicated patrols to take action against the small few who are letting us all down.’

He then listed a few recent examples of ‘dangerous breaches’ including a family who took a minibus to Wales to go for a walk.

He went on: ‘We are also preventing dangerous breaches. In Bristol at the weekend we arrested a 19-year-old man after finding an advert for an illegal rave on social media. Avon and Somerset police prevented that event from starting, issued fines to 38 other people who showed up and turned away many more.

‘We will not waste time trying to reason with people like this.’

He added: ‘Not wearing a face covering on a bus or a train is dangerous … So on those systems, unless you are exempt, you can expect a fine.’

Earlier in the day, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick, had a similar message.

Dick oversaw the assassination of Jean Charles de Menezes, gunned down by police at Stockwell station in 2005 in a case of ‘mistaken identity’.

She said: ‘We will move more quickly to enforcement, and particularly where somebody is breaking the law, breaking the regulations and it is absolutely clear that they must have known or do know that they are, then we will move very swiftly into enforcement and fining people.’