Police given powers to arrest or fine those breaking coronavirus lockdown rules

PUBLISHED: 17:09 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 26 March 2020

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People who continue to flout coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and could be arrested by police.

Those who ignore tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence, the Home Office has warned.

Officers in England were given the power to enforce rules on staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel as of 1pm on Thursday, March 26.

They can order members of the public to go home, leave an area, have the power to disperse a group, using “reasonable force, if necessary”.

Police can also take steps to make sure parents are stopping their children from breaking the rules.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the powers were designed to “protect the public and keep people safe”.

According to the guidance, the cost of initial fixed penalty notices will be cut to £30 if paid within 14 days and those who do not pay could be taken to court and risk facing costs for unlimited fines.

Refusing to provide a name and address to avoid being given a fine is an arrestable offence.

The Home Office said: “If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

“However, in the first instance, the police will always apply their common sense and discretion.”

Known as the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, similar rules will be in place across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The Regulations state they are made “in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health” posed by Covid-19 and the Government considers the “restrictions and requirements imposed by these Regulations are proportionate to what they seek to achieve.”

The rules will be in place for an emergency period which must be reviewed at least once every 21 days, starting on April 16.

Devon and Cornwall Police has had officers around the region stopping cars and pedestrians and asking where they are going.

The force has also appealed for any retired officers or police staff who were able to volunteer their services to help out in a range of roles during the crisis.

In a bid to help bolster police numbers, the Government will allow civil servants who volunteer as special constables to “assist in the national effort to the greatest extent possible”.

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