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To Save Lives, Stick to the Rules Or We’ll Enforce Them, Surrey’s Police Chief Warns

Published on: 10 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 12 Apr, 2020

Gavin Stephens

Gavin Stephens, Surrey’s Chief Constable, called an online press conference yesterday (April 9) to emphasise the need for everybody to continue to comply with counter-virus measures over the Easter holiday weekend.

He said: “We all have to do our bit to save lives.”

Police are following a national policy called “the four Es” to maintain compliance with government restrictions.

  • Engage with those who appear to be breaking the rules,
  • Explain the need for compliance,
  • Encourage observance,
  • Resort to Enforcement if the rules are not obeyed.

But he did not intend to follow the example of some constabularies and use vehicle checkpoints to ensure that only essential journeys were being made.

Surrey officers have had to issue several £60 (£30 if paid promptly) fixed penalty notices where individuals have refused to heed warnings. But the police appreciated that the overwhelming majority were actively cooperating and CC Stephens highlighted one case where officers were called to break up a house party in Addlestone, last weekend, and neighbours came out of their homes to applaud them.

He did not think any cases had gone to court yet because of refusal to accept tickets or pay fines but he echoed Cornwall’s chief constable, saying:” If a fixed penalty notice is the thing that persuades you not to do something and the death of hundreds of people every day doesn’t, then you really need to take a cold, hard look at yourself.”

And there are reports of increasing levels of abuse towards police, NHS staff and key workers on the front line of the coronavirus crisis.

Chief Superintendent Jane Derrick said: “With those who chose not to comply with the government’s guidance, we have taken the necessary enforcement action.

“[Some of] our officers engaging with people or responding to reports of crime have been spat or coughed on by individuals claiming to have coronavirus in a bid to avoid being arrested. We have also had reports of people spitting at and verbally abusing key workers.

“It is appalling that the women and men on the front line of this crisis are being threatened with the virus they are working so hard every day to protect us against.

“That they are being spat or coughed on is bad enough, but to then claim to have Covid-19, makes the behaviour even more despicable. Being assaulted is not part of the job.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has ruled such behaviour could constitute common assault, and attacks on emergency workers specifically were punishable by up to two years in prison.

But CC Stephens confirmed levels of compliance in the county were good. He urged everyone to show proper neighbourliness by checking on more vulnerable others near by, including the elderly and disabled, and ensure they had sufficient food supplies.

In Surrey, 17, 300 people have been identified as vulnerable.

Assistant Chief Constable Nev Kemp said since the lockdown was imposed other crime levels have fallen. Calls for police assistance, burglaries, night-time crime (mainly associated with drinking) and traffic accidents were all down, allowing officers to redeploy resources to other areas.

But he emphasised that he and his colleagues were alert to the increased risk of domestic abuse and scams especially aimed at the isolated and vulnerable. Increased levels of these crimes had not yet been recorded but they are likely.

At the briefing, the county’s Local Resilience Forum was also explained. As well as police, the NHS, fire and rescue, local authorities and the Army are represented.  The forum meets daily at strategic level and twice-daily at a tactical level although work continues 24/7 to direct and coordinate work of the different agencies during the crisis. An issue presently being dealt with is supply and distribution of essential personal protection equipment (PPE).

CC Stephens stressed that our day to day actions and interactions have a direct impact on the mortality rate. “We are being asked to stay at home for a very good reason. Our NHS colleagues are struggling every day to save hundreds, and who knows what will happen, maybe thousands of lives each day, and we’ve really got to get perspective on that and think, ‘Do we really need to travel?’.”

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Responses to To Save Lives, Stick to the Rules Or We’ll Enforce Them, Surrey’s Police Chief Warns

  1. Fran Howells Reply

    April 10, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Fines are not high enough. £100 or even £250 to those who think “stay indoors” doesn’t relate to them.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 12, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      It is not “stay indoors” it is “stay at home”, that includes being out in your garden, if you have one.

  2. RWL Davies Reply

    April 11, 2020 at 8:34 am

    The fines are not high enough for Guildford. They should be a minimum of £20,000 and no maximum with additional barring from Waitrose and impounding of Audis, Mercedes, BMWs and Range Rovers if “stay indoors” (it’s guidance by the way not law) is ignored.

    Remember they say effectively “careless walks cost lives”. Perhaps we need vigilantes to help the police control and report ambulatory miscreants?

  3. Kathleen Parrish Reply

    April 11, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    The older and younger disabled who are more vulnerable to the Covid-19, but it is the younger ones who suffer less with some not showing symptoms, but still pass this virus on, which makes them more of a danger everyone.

    These are the ones who care nothing for others and go out and about. I live in a block of 4 flats and 2 of the flats residents are not abiding by this lockdown and no police are to be seen.

    There are however some local youngsters who have formed the Ash, Ash Vale and Ash Green Support Group to help the elderly and vulnerable with their shopping.

    It is youngsters like this who need congratulating.

    Those who flout the lockdown and do not care who they may cause illness to or die as a result should be heavily fined. There needs to be somewhere one can report these people to.

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