Britons breaking coronavirus lockdown rules can be arrested or fined £60 under new police powers.
Introduced on Thursday with immediate effect, the new powers will give police the means to ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel.
If members of the public do not comply, police may:
- Instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse;
- Ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking the rules;
- Issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days;
- Issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence.
Those who do not pay fines could be taken to court, where magistrates will be able to impose unlimited fines.
And, if an individual continues to refuse to comply, police may arrest them.
However, the Home Office said officers “will always apply their common sense and discretion” in the first instance.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The prime minister has been clear on what we need to do: stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives.
“All our frontline services really are the best of us and are doing an incredible job to stop this terrible virus from spreading.
“That’s why I’m giving the police these new enforcement powers, to protect the public and keep people safe.”
In efforts to boost police resources, the government is ensuring civil servants who already volunteer as Special Constables are able to assist forces as much as possible.
Ministers are also relaxing tax and pensions rules that might deter those recently retired – or approaching retirement – from returning to serve; as well as talking to the private security sector to see how firms might help.
Earlier on Thursday, North Yorkshire Police announced they are now deploying random vehicle checkpoints to ensure people are only making essential journeys.
The force’s officers will be stopping vehicles and asking motorists where they are going and why they are going there.
The checkpoints will be unannounced and could appear anywhere any time, North Yorkshire Police said.
In order to help stop the spread of coronavirus, the government has said people are only allowed to leave their homes for:
- Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
- One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of their household;
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
- Travelling to and from work, but only where people cannot work from home.
Gatherings of more than two people in public spaces are banned except in very limited circumstances, such as where it is for essential work purposes.
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