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Prepare for lockdown crackdown, say Warwickshire police

WATCH out, our bobbies are on the beat – that’s the message from Warwickshire Police, who say they will be issuing fines to those not abiding by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Stratford officer PC Amy Jones was on patrol in the town last week, following the force’s “four Es” approach to Covid enforcement – engage, explain, encourage, enforce.

A spokesperson for the force said: “First we will try to engage with someone, explain how we think they are breaking the rules and encourage them to change their behaviour to reduce the risk to public safety and health.”

  • Over a couple of days last week, fines in the south of the county include:
  • Two people reported for being in Stratford with no reasonable exemption to leave home;
  • A man in Green Lane, Studley, reported for breach of travel quarantine; and
  • The owner of a house in The Avenue, Rowington, reported for having visitors.

People aged over 18 can be fined £200 for the first offence – cut to £100 if paid within 14 days – £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence to a maximum of £6,400.

From last March up to 20th December, a total of 478 fines were handed out in Warwickshire, compared to 970 in the West Midlands.

Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith said: “While the majority of people in Warwickshire are following the rules, we are continuing to see some ignore the restrictions and choose to put others at risk.

“There are some clear messages coming from our health colleagues about the huge pressures on the NHS and the importance of everyone following the rules to bring down the number of infections.

“We know this is difficult and frustrating, but we must all take personal responsibility for our actions and play our part in protecting ourselves and others.

“Our officers will continue to engage with people and explain the rules, but the expectation now is that people do understand the situation and must have a reasonable excuse for being away from their home, as set out by the government. If this is not the case, they will face a fine.”

The message was reinforced by police and crime commissioner Philip Seccombe, who told BBC CWR that people not abiding by the rules “deserve to be punished”.

He added: “The fines issued over the last weekend shows police are using the powers that they have. I’m very happy with the way the powers are being used and the proportionate way they are dealing with members of the public. In Warwickshire we have got the balance right.”

Government adviser Dr Mike Tildesley, of the University of Warwick, told the BBC it was too soon to tell if the lockdown is working: “We have seen the number of cases plateau but not really start to go down. Sadly we are seeing a record number of deaths and I would expect that to increase for the next week or two. It usually takes two weeks before we start to see any changes reflected in hospitalisations and deaths.”

For the latest statistics and news of how police are enforcing restrictions, see this week's edition of the Stratford Herald.

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