Fringe Box



New Law on Gatherings to be Enforced, Says PCC, But That Will Strain Police

Published on: 10 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2020

David Munro

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

David Munro, Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner says enforcing a new law banning gatherings of more than six people will strain police resources.

But he thinks the more rigorous rules are inevitable after England’s coronavirus cases rose by 2,659 in 24 hours, 32 of them in Surrey.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday (September 9), in his first Downing Street coronavirus briefing since July, that the new law was needed to avoid another lockdown,

Mr Munro said police would use their powers though he hoped they would not have to. “As a libertarian, I don’t like laws generally,” he said. “Most people don’t need laws; we should have them only where it’s absolutely necessary.

“It will put a strain on resources but I can see the rationale for it.”

He added: “We don’t want to enforce, we want to be on the community’s side and we recognise most people want to cooperate, but we all make mistakes and it’s up to the force to correct those mistakes.

“But we don’t want to go hammering in and issuing all sorts of notices. I always say the style of Surrey Police is to be as nice as they possibly can, but as ‘nasty’ as they have to be.”

When the law comes into force on Monday (September 14), people gathering indoors or outdoors in groups of more than six can be fined £100, doubling for each repeat offence up to £3,200. At present, people face fines only for gathering in groups of 30 or more.

Social premises and venues, including pubs and restaurants, will be legally required to request test-and-trace information from customers and keep the details for 21 days.

Every Surrey district and borough recorded an increase in coronavirus cases yesterday. Waverley and Elmbridge had the biggest, with six and five respectively. The total number of cases in the county now sits at 5,366.

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