Police will have the power to enforce new restrictions imposed by the Prime Minister as the UK works to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
People will now only be able to leave their homes for a small number of reasons – listed here – as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus.
In his speech tonight Boris Johnson said the police would be able to fine or disperse those who did not comply with the new rules.
He said: “If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”
Gareth Morgan, Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, said: ““We fully support the new measures announced by the Government to increase social distancing and recognise the significance and impact of these decisions.
“The majority of people are already making real sacrifices to save lives and I am confident that the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent will follow the advice that is designed to keep us all safe.
“We are aware of the proposed legislation in relation to coronavirus and are carefully considering the implications in this very fast moving situation to consider how these new rules can be most effectively enforced. However I fully expect the vast majority of the public to heed the guidance and put others before themselves in the public interest. ”
“We recognise that people may well be anxious and uncertain and so we will be increasing police patrols in key areas across the county to provide reassurance and guidance to anyone about the new measures.”
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are in unprecedented and uncertain times, with Government advice frequently changing as Covid-19 affects more people.
“Saving lives and protecting the public is the number one priority for us all and at this time of national crisis it is essential that we all come together and play our part in doing so.
“The practicalities of policing this lockdown will be challenging, but policing will do all it can to keep the public safe, but we need the public to support us.
“I ask that the public heed the advice and stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
“This will allow police officers to concentrate on keeping the streets safe and deal with all the regular calls we receive.
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“This is about saving lives and supporting our NHS, I ask that the public gives us their support in this time of crisis.”
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said he would like to see the measures go further if the public didn’t listen to the advice.
Speaking to Sky News he said: “Absolutely it could become more draconian towards the public, no doubt whatsoever,” he said.
“You see up to today that they weren’t taking a lot of notice and that’s why I think the Prime Minister has had to step in in the way he has.
“Hopefully from this day, well if they don’t listen, then there will be tougher measures. I don’t doubt for one minute, because the only thing you are going to see is hundreds and hundreds of people dying.
“And we don’t want that, the police don’t want that, I’m sure the public don’t want that. It could be their loved ones.
“So we’ve got to work together.”
Mr Marsh told Sky News that he believed the Army could be drafted should police numbers fall due to illness.
He said: “The Army are already in place on the outskirts of London and across the country. And I don’t doubt again for one minute that they will be called if needed.
“Because if we start losing large numbers in policing terms, through isolation and actually having Covid-19, then they are going to step in and support us in some way.
“It could be tailored in quite quickly and I would say that everything is on the table.”