County police chief urges people to follow lockdown measures
- Credit: LAUREN DE BOISE
Suffolk’s police chief said enforcing new powers to fine people who do not comply with government measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus will be a “last resort”.
Chief Constable Steve Jupp said protecting the NHS and public must be the priority and that new police powers – to disperse public gatherings and fine offenders who do not follow the rules – will be enforced.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation last night and ordered people to stay at home unless they were shopping for basic necessities, taking daily exercise, travelling to and from essential work, or for a medical need.
Public gatherings of more than two people who do not live together are prohibited, and shops selling non-essential items have been ordered to close.
MORE: Boris Johnson announces lockdown measuresMr Jupp said communities need to “work together” during the crisis.
“It is imperative people comply with these new measures to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and to ensure lives are saved,” he said.
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“The moves so far to limit social distancing have not had the necessary effect, with some people still going about their business as if the threat from coronavirus didn’t exist.
“It has to stop. We all need to work together to protect our NHS and other public services so that we can ensure we can help you.
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“I appreciate the crisis we are facing is having a massive impact on people’s lives and the vast majority of people in Suffolk are making a real effort to do all they can to help themselves and others by heeding what has been said.
“I would now urge the small minority who have not done so to adhere to these new instructions from the prime minister.
“The Government has given us some new powers but actually it’s a last resort for us. What we want to do is build consent through communities. We are starting to get a greater understanding of appreciation across communities as to why we’re doing this.
“What we won’t be doing is going out just looking for people who are hanging around. We will be in communities, giving reassurance, policing in the normal way that we do because we do understand that crime is still going on.
“This is unprecedented so there is a degree of nervousness in our communities and we want to be there to support them.
“We always want to educate, to negotiate but if people are not following the prime minister’s instructions then we will [issue fines] but that will be a last resort.”
What do the measures mean?
• Police will engage and encourage compliance, and may disperse groups of more than two people who do not live with one another. Those who refuse may face a fine.
• New powers will come into effect on Thursday – in the meantime officers will approach groups and stress the importance of following the new rules.
• Non-essential shops will be closed by Suffolk Trading Standards, and police officers will support them if necessary.
• Play parks and churches will be closed by local authorities.
• Day-to-day policing will continue
MORE: All the latest coronavirus updates hereThe chief constable added that officers will attempt to “negotiate and convince” before resorting to the law.
“Our officers will be out in our communities as we are normally,” Mr Jupp said. “We will use the opportunity to explain the new rules and discuss with people what they are doing, and why they are out.
“We will continue to work within our traditional policing model, with the consent of the public. The vast majority of the public understand why we may need to use the new powers. We will, of course, negotiate and convince before resorting to the law.
“We must not be complacent. I urge people in Suffolk to follow the advice which is being given, stay at home and help us help the national effort to protect you and our NHS.
“Finally, I would like to say how proud I am of my officers and staff for everything they are doing, along with all the NHS staff and other emergency services.”