New police measures could land individuals £6,400 fine for breaking lockdown restrictions
As the nation’s third lockdown in less than a year is underway, police forces across the country have received revised government’s regulations to enforce COVID-19 safety restrictions on the public, with maximum fines of up to £6,400 per person.
Although there has been confusion at times during the previous two lockdowns as to who can be out and about, as well as who should and shouldn’t be wearing a mask, the government is aiming to impose tougher rules this time around as coronavirus cases continue to escalate across England.
According to West Midlands Police, “The message is clear – Stay at home unless you have a valid reason not to be there.”
In an official statement, the force revealed its officers will be policing the region in as strict a manner as they did during the first lockdown in March last year.
“These unprecedented times continue and we don’t underestimate the difficulties many people are facing as this pandemic worsens.
“Our mission and purpose is clear – to encourage everyone to play their part, protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.”
The statement added that WMP will continue to police our communities using the ‘4 Es’ approach – engaging, explaining, encouraging and “as a last resort, enforcement”.
According to updated government guidelines, members of the public must not leave or be outside of their home except where they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
“This is the law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice),” the UK Government website states.
Anyone breaking these rules can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
When can you leave home?
According to the government, it is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This is the law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).
A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:
Work, volunteering, essential activities, education and childcare, exercise, medical reasons, maternity, to avoid risk of harm, compassionate visits, animal welfare reasons, communal worship and life events.
There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations, or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, for the purpose of picketing, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.
When can you meet other people?
- to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one)
- to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, not
- to enable social contact between adults)
- to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
- to provide emergency assistance
- to attend a support group (of up to 15 people)
- for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
Police in the West Midlands have made clear they will be concentrating their efforts in tackling illegal gatherings such as house parties and unlicensed music events and also ensuring those who should be wearing face masks are complying with that requirement, while those who do not comply can expect to be fined.
“Over many months, we have worked together with local authority colleagues to make sure businesses that can be open are also following the rules,” the police statement continues.
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Bell said: “We know the vast majority of local people will do their bit to follow the restrictions as they have over many months, we will be primarily policing the minority.
“It is so important that everyone is clear what they can and can’t do so we can keep each other safe.
“Those that flagrantly breach these restrictions can expect a fine, they are putting others’ lives at risk and this is simply unacceptable.
“We need to do all we can to help to prevent the further spread of the deadly virus and ultimately save lives.”