Suffolk police chief calls on ‘small proportion’ to stop ignoring lockdown rules
- Credit: LAUREN DE BOISE
Suffolk’s top police officer is appealing to the “small proportion” of the population who are flouting social distancing rules after revealing officers had made one arrest and issued a “few fines” to those ignoring the lockdown.
The constabulary had received a high volume of calls over the weekend as sunny weather prompted many to utilise their daily exercise – prompting fears from the public that lockdown rules were being flouted.
Among the concerns were at Orwell Country Park, where people are said to have been picnicking or engaging in “very little or no social distancing” on Saturday.
As part of the new laws, those who flout guidelines can face a £60 fine - reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Despite an influx of calls however, chief constable Jupp said the majority of the public are adhering to the rules.
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Mr Jupp said: “On Saturday we felt most people were spot on, but we’ve seen some more footfall in Ipswich parks and costal areas.
“In Christchurch Park we have seen a groups of cyclists and away from there we have also seen groups of motorcyclists riding together, so there has been a step back there.
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“Unfortunately we have had to dish out a few fines – at the end of the day, no one wants to fine people, but in the first instance we are making sure we explain the importance of the rules and why they are there.”
Mr Jupp did add however one “recidivist” was arrested after he refused to listen to instructions to return home.
In Norfolk, two men were charged on Sunday for breaching the Coronavirus Act 2020 following an incident in Wymondham.
Mr Jupp said: “It is an interesting dynamic as we have more than half of the population wanting us to enforce laws as they are genuinely concerned about the virus – especially because of the size of the elderly population in Suffolk. But we do have a small proportion who do not want us to police and do not want to comply.
“Thankfully we are below a lot of other counties in terms of having to take action.
“I think we have struck the right balance as a force in terms of how we are policing the laws.
“Just stay disciplined, remember why it is we are doing what we do – this is about protecting the NHS and saving lives. The more people adhere to the rules, the quicker we will get through this.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock had hinted earlier on Sunday afternoon that the government may have no choice but to restrict outdoor exercising rules, but later in the daily press conference said the government was not planning imminent changes to regulations. Mr Hancock said: “Following these rules is mission-critical if we’re to protect the NHS, slow the spread and give the NHS time to expand capacity and so save lives.
“The more people follow the rules then the faster we will all be through this.
“So I say this to the small minority of people who are breaking the rules or pushing the boundaries: you’re risking your own life and the lives of others and you’re making it harder for us all.”