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Surrey Police Switch to Traffic Checks and Issue Nearly 90 Tickets Over Easter Weekend

Published on: 14 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 14 Apr, 2020

In what seems a change in police policy, Surrey and Sussex officers made 49 traffic stop-checks over the Easter weekend advising the “vast majority” of stopped drivers on social distancing.

Gavin Stephens, Surrey’s chief constable, had said during an April 9 press conference that there were no plans for vehicle checks.

A force spokesman said in a statement on Monday, April 13: “Surrey Police intend to maintain road safety and deal with those who have a disregard for others by travelling for non-essential purposes or driving in an unsafe manner.”

The Dragon NEWS has requested clarification for the criteria now used by officers for stopping vehicles.

In total, from all incidents reported to Surrey Police over Friday-Sunday, 90 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), described as a “very small number”, had to be issued.

Surrey police also thanked the residents who stayed home over the Easter bank holiday. Over the four-day holiday weekend, the number of reported crimes remained low as people overwhelmingly followed the government’s Covid-19 advice.

No incidents in the Guildford area were reported in the police press release but a spokesperson said they had to deploy a drone to break up a group of 30 people not observing social distancing in Walton-on-Thames on Friday, April 10.

Using the drone and communicating without physically putting officers at additional risk through close proximity proved effective and the group left without officers having to take further action.

If required, the police drone will direct large groups of people congregating in outdoor spaces to leave the area by playing a message of: “Attention, this a police message. You are gathering in breach of government guidelines to stay at home in response to the coronavirus.

“You are putting lives at risk. Please disperse immediately and return home.”

Groups can be spotted quickly and encouraged to comply with regulations by Surrey and Sussex officers using the drone under recently introduced legislation.

On Friday, officers were required to take action, once again, at popular beauty spot Box Hill, after reports of cyclists ignoring road closures and social distancing restrictions. Officers intervened with riders along the Zig Zag Road and re-established the closures.

On Saturday, officers engaged with motorcyclists on the A24 ignoring give way signs on the A24 at West Humble.

In total, from all weekend incidents almost 90 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) had to be issued. Most were given to people who weren’t residents of Surrey. One group from Chiswick stated they were “just being cheeky” when questioned on why they had made the unnecessary journey.

Gavin Stephens, Surrey’s chief constable.

CC Stephens said: “Once again, I’m so thankful for the amazing community spirit across Surrey. As social distancing becomes more routine for the public I’d like to thank the vast majority of local people for observing the government advice and staying home to save lives this weekend.

“I’d also like to thank those people who have been reporting potential breaches of the government legislation to us via our website. Each report is reviewed, triaged and prioritised for response.

“It has become apparent there are certain crime groups of particular concern during the isolation period. These include domestic abuse, fraud and child exploitation. Surrey police continue to hold these as a top priority and encourage victims of crime to report to us.

“We have also been made aware of incidents of key workers, including police officers, paramedics, shop workers and security guards being threatened or abused while on their essential work. This will not be tolerated and action will be taken against those guilty of this.

“Finally I’d ask people to keep up their fantastic effort and to not become complacent about slowing the spread of Covid-19. Please stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives”.

Under government regulations, you should leave the house only for very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle, alone or with members of your household;
  • Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • Travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

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