Public Sector Focus

26.03.20

New powers given to police to manage coronavirus spread

The Home Office has announced today (Mar 26) that new powers have been bestowed upon the UK police force to deal with the response to coronavirus.

It comes in a bid to ensure people stay at home, and in doing so protect the NHS and save countless lives.

The new powers, which come into effect from today will support police by allowing them to apply new measures if members of the public don’t comply.

From today the police will be instructing people to go home or disperse and will be able to issue a fixed penalty of £60 in the event of non-compliance, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.

If members of the public continue to break the new restrictions put in place, the police may issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second offenders, doubling with each repeat offence.

If individuals refuse to pay their fine, they may be taken to court where magistrates may impose unlimited fines and if non-compliance continues the police may arrest them where proportionate and necessary.

However, the government has been clear in that in the first instance the police will always apply common sense and discretion so as to limit escalation.

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 addition to this, police resources will be boosted with a new package of support, by ensuring that existing Civil Servants already volunteering as Special Constables can assist in this national effort where possible.

Tax and pension rules will also be relaxed in recognition of their value and expertise and in a bid to retain officers nearing retirement.

As per the Prime Minsters instructions, individuals will only be allowed to leave their home for shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise a day, medical needs and travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home.

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