Revealed - Number of fines handed out to coronavirus rule-breakers
- Credit: LAUREN DE BOISE
Officers have issued 95 fines to those flouting coronavirus self-distancing rules across Suffolk, with hotspots in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds.
The new data shows that people are still ignoring government guidelines put in place to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and reduce the pressure on intensive care units across the country.
However, the statistics released by the National Police Chief’s Council also show that crime is down by more than a quarter nationally.
Suffolk Constabulary’s Chief Constable Steve Jupp said most of the rule-breakers in Suffolk were men and the majority of cases were being seen in the most built up areas including Felixstowe, Bury St Edmunds and particularly Ipswich.
He said: “I think we are taking a really balanced, proportionate approach to tackling those who are not following the guidelines.
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“We always look to engage with those breaking the rules and explain and advise them on what they should be doing.
“But, as a last resort we are willing to hand out these fines.
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“I think 95 fines in comparison to the population of Suffolk is a very proportional response to the issue.”
The new figures, recorded between March 27 and the April 13, show that 3,203 fines were handed out nationally, equating to roughly 0.01% of the population.
Essex Police handed out 20 fines while officers in Norfolk issued 126.
However, records also show that crime has reduced by 28% across the UK during lockdown.
Mr Jupp also spoke to reduce fears about those who are ignoring guidelines and travelling to their second homes on the Suffolk coast.
He said: “I think the idea that people staying in their second homes in Suffolk to get away from more at-risk areas is not nearly as severe as it is portrayed on social media.
“At the start we did see a few cases but it is not as bad as some think.
“Most of the situations we are seeing are people still gathering in parks, having parties and barbecues and that is the type of behaviour we are trying to stop.
“Going forwards we will continue engaging with people who are not following the rules and as a last resort, issuing fines.
“We are trying to protect members of our community and out NHS to stop people dying.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I’m really pleased to see that the constabulary has taken a balanced approach to issuing these new fixed penalty notices.
“It is equally pleasing to see that the majority of Suffolk residents are doing the right thing and staying home.
“I fully support the constabulary’s approach and I know officers are only issuing penalties as a last resort but if people do not comply, a penalty notice is the correct outcome.
“Those who are ignoring the regulations need to seriously reflect on their behaviour as it is potentially putting more lives at risk and adding to the pressure on the NHS, which is totally unacceptable.”