Chief Constables from the five North West police constabularies have issued an open letter this morning warning residents will “face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement” should they not comply with national lockdown restrictions.
The statement – signed Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, along with CCs from Lancashire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, Cheshire Constabulary, and Cumbria Constabulary – said they would “collectively target” the minority of the public who flout rules by holding large gatherings, music events, parties, and so on.
The senior officers also said they were seeking support from the government and judiciary to consider how they can rapidly bring to justice those who choose to ignore coronavirus (COVID-19)-related fines.
The statement comes ahead of the four-week national lockdown in England – announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a direct address to MPs in the House of Commons last Saturday evening – which is due to be voted on in Parliament today and will take effect from 0.01 GMT on Thursday 5th November.
The Chief Constables said they had seen first hand “the misery the pandemic has caused”.
They said they had received “great support from the majority of our communities” so far, but have sadly seen “a minority right across the North West who seem incapable of demonstrating any civic responsibility and complying with regulations,”.
Awareness of the public’s calls for a “consistent and robust” approach to enforcement was also acknowledged.
The letter also detailed the police forces’ response to the last national lockdown, stating that officers had taken a “very measured” approach to enforcement and used a model of “engage, explain, encourage and only as a last resort, enforce” in relation to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN).
The statement then went on to urge the public to continue complying with COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the pending national lockdown.
It reads: “We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives.”
“[But] to the minority who feel the restrictions don’t apply to them, be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement.
“We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions such as self-isolating where necessary.
“Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them.
“We are therefore seeking support from government and the Judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly.”
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.