Police crackdown on COVID-19 rule flouters across West Mids
West Midlands Police are stepping up efforts to strictly enforce COVID-19 regulations in a bid to help control the spread of coronavirus.
The ramping up of protective action follows several weeks of local officers and PCSOs engaging with the public, together with widespread publicity.
With four regions in the West Midlands – Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Wolverhampton – already under enhanced measures, the force will be focussing on areas with the highest infection rate and the lowest compliance.
Police officers will be patrolling transport hubs, retail outlets, education establishments, hospitality venues and open spaces to remind people of the measures in place, and issue fines to those breaching them.
Wolverhampton Commander, Chief Superintendent Andy Beard said: “This is a critical period in the fight against coronavirus and no-one wants the restrictions to carry on for longer than they have to, particularly in the areas with increased measures.
“But it is necessary to control the spread and we will be taking a tougher stance on those breaching the restrictions. These regulations are law and we will be issuing fines to those found flouting them.
“We understand that some of the regulations are confusing and we will be explaining where we find breaches, but if people continually flout these measures, we will not hesitate to take action.
“We are working with other organisations to look at larger scale breaches, such as unlicensed music events or wedding and funeral gatherings, and more recently we have seen breaches at student accommodation and premises following the reopening of universities and colleges.
“We understand that this is a frustrating time for everyone but we must all follow the rules to help save lives.”
Closure notices have been issued to several venues including Blossoms bar and nightclub in Wolverhampton where capacity levels were continually exceeded and agreed social distancing measures blatantly disregarded, and PBs in Hockley, the first venue to have its licence revoked after the club was found to have no social distancing measures, no track and trace, and frequently played loud music.
Just this week the Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel in Solihull has been banned from holding events until January next year after a funeral held on Friday was attended by around 200 people.
However hundreds more venues have implemented extensive precautions to keep their customers safe as licensing officers continue to assist owners and managers to review risk assessments with them to offer advice where it is needed.
Cllr Philip Davis, Chair of the Licensing and Public Protection Committee at Birmingham City Council, said:
“Businesses have a responsibility – not only to their staff and customers – but to the wider community and there must be consequences when COVID-19 guidance is simply ignored. This is potentially a matter of life or death and Birmingham City Council will continue to work with West Midlands Police to enforce the guidelines.
“We have seen a range of contraventions which have led to a number of licence reviews, including one of which resulted in the premises’ licence being revoked for flouting COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. Where businesses are flouting restrictions to such an extent that shows total disregard for people’s safety, we will not hesitate to take action.”