Covid-19 rule breakers more likely to get fined this time, say police
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Covid-19 rule breakers in Suffolk who deliberately flout restrictions are "more likely" to get fined than they were previously, according to the county's assistant chief constable.
Suffolk moved into Tier 4 on Boxing Day in response to rising coronavirus cases and a variant of Covid-19 being discovered in the UK.
Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and parts of Essex which were in Tier 2 also moved into the toughest tier from Saturday.
In Tier 4, no household mixing is allowed, though one person can meet one other person outside in a public space, while all non-essential shops and businesses must close, including personal care and indoor entertainment.
Nobody can enter or leave Tier 4 areas and residents must not stay overnight away from home.
ACC Rob Jones, from Suffolk police, said while the force is keeping a similar policing approach, rule-breakers can expect harsher treatment than they might have previously been given.
He also revealed that officers from Suffolk had been drafted to Kent to help with the "critical situation" in the south-eastern county after a more transmissible mutant Covid strain was discovered.
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"We've been planning for this for some time as you can imagine, and looking at how other areas are dealing with it, and fundamentally, it's the same policing approach," he said.
"So we're keeping the four E's (Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce) but people deliberately flouting guidance and law can expect they are more likely to be fined than they were previously.
"If you look at what we have been doing in Suffolk, we've been giving lots of words of advice, and where people have flouted the law but it hasn't caused any great harm, we've given them firm advice on conduct and only given a fine when there's been exacerbating circumstances.
"But because of the public health risk, people can expect where they deliberately choose not to follow the rules, they are more likely to get fined."
ACC Jones said people are "largely" following the guidance, and added that the force will not be performing random checks on vehicles going into or out of the county.
"We haven't got specific plans to stop people between borders and of course with the tier changes now, that we're all into Tier 4, that brief period where we potentially had some people travelling up to take advantage of the shops being open and the different things has changed," he said.
"The compliance has been very good. Places have been quiet and while they were still in the lower tier, the observation of safety was generally very good.
"People have understood the guidance and are largely following it, but we will, where we get intelligence, evaluate all of those things but we're not doing random stops in different places. That's not part of our plan."