Warwickshire Police launch survey asking the public to comment on its handling of the covid crisis
ENFORCING the latest Covid rules is proving something of a minefield for Warwickshire Police.
The force has been getting flak for its approach at the same time as launching a survey asking the public to comment on its performance dealing with the crisis.
Fines have been issued over incidents that have been seen by some as trivial.
In one case last week a couple were fined when they visited Burton Dassett Hills and were caught by officers sitting in their car watching The Only Way is Essex on a smartphone.
Wellesbourne’s safer neighbourhood team has been patrolling the park and issued four fines last week. And traffic police stopped two people in a Toyota Yaris on the A46 who had travelled from Buckinghamshire to view a second-hand car for sale in Coventry. An officer told them their journey was not essential and fined them £200 each.
When police shared news of this on social media it was met with more than 500 responses. While some praised the hardline stance, most criticised it as heavy-handed.
Lilah Blair commented: “The purchase of a car is almost definitely essential to aid in safe and essential travel to and from work and to get shopping and prescriptions as outlined by the government.”
Others pointed out that not everyone could afford to buy cars from a local dealership, and that it seemed contradictory that housebuyers could view properties outside their area.
The force has announced it is seeking public feedback on its policing of the pandemic with an online survey.
Head of local policing Chief Supt Ben Smith said: “The last year has been a particularly challenging time for policing, and Warwickshire Police is no exception. Our officers continue to try to tackle crime, while also adapting to the evolving situation that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented; interpreting and enforcing quickly changing legislation to help minimise the spread of the virus and, in turn, protect lives.
“We have therefore tried to ensure we deliver a considered, balanced and proportionate approach to the unprecedented scenarios we have found ourselves faced with.
“We recognise that while we don’t always get it right, I am proud to say that as a force, we do appear to have so far successfully struck the balance between discretion, education and enforcement.”
A link to the survey, which is open until 19th February, can be found here.
This is the list of violations that resulted in fines being given by Warwickshire the weekend of 15th/16th January
7.42pm – Coronation Ave, Polesworth – Officers attended following report of people gathering at the property. Two reported for fines.
8.36pm – Castle Road, Kenilworth – Officers came across a vehicle parked up with two people from different households inside, both from Coventry. Both reported for fines.
9.33pm – Bridgefoot Multi-storey Car Park, Stratford – Officers moved a group of six on after they breached lockdown rules. Some issued with fines (those over 18) and others warned.
08.36am – Milner Drive, Shuttington - Man reported for fine after he was found at someone’s house when he wasn’t in their support bubble.
11.59am Eastfield Place, Rugby – Woman reported for fine for having visitor round when she should have been self-isolating pending result of Covid test.
1.36pm – Brackley Crescent, Warwick - Seven reported for fines following report of gathering at property
1.46pm – Sandy Lane, Leamington - Four people reported for fines following report of gathering at property.
8.53pm – Burton Dassett Country Park – Three men from different households reported for fines after being found in the same car.
20.53pm – Wootton Street, Bedworth – three reported for fines following gathering at property.
10.10pm – Bristol Way, Wellesbourne – Eight reported for fines following report of party at premises.
11.06pm – Follanger Road, Rugby – Four reported for fines following report of party.
11.34pm – Napton Drive, Leamington – Six people reported for fines following report of gathering at the address.
00.48am – Ryland Close, Leamington – People reported for fines following report of gathering in Ryland Close, Leamington. Don’t have exact number.
10.49am – Exhall – Car wash reported for fine after being found open.
10.49am – Albert Street, Rugby – Person reported for fine for leaving home for non-essential reason.
12.09pm – Glebe Estate, Wilmcote – Woman reported for fine after reports she was failing to self-issolate.
If you break the rules
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.