Covid-19 - A Message from Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew
“The vast majority of the public continue to be supportive of our actions and are adhering to restrictions, and I am keen that we continue to operate a policing style that is one of engagement and encouragement.
“New legislation has been introduced which provides the police with additional powers relating to Covid-19 restrictions. This includes the option for officers to fine those refusing to adhere to Government guidance surrounding the observing of vital social distancing.
“Unfortunately there is a minority who continue to ignore government instruction which is in place ultimately to save lives.
“With this in mind, and whilst it really does remain a last resort, I have today reassured my officers that the option of enforcement is available to them, and is an action I am in support of.
“Currently, my officers have only issued a handful of fines since the new legislation has been introduced.
“We are aware of frustrations our public feel when they see others not doing their part and undertaking anything other than essential travel.
“As we look to the bank holiday weekend I wish to be clear with our message which is stay at home and do not undertake travel that isn’t essential. My officers will continue to be visible in our towns and cities, and we will police the roads.
“We understand that people may have second homes in Devon or Cornwall but we urge you not to travel to them.
“The Gov.uk website states that ‘Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People must remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.’
“In accordance with this guidance, we do not consider this to be a reasonable excuse for individuals to be away from their home. If we stop vehicles and they are travelling to a second home we will ask them to return to their primary residence.
“Our primary approach remains engagement, explanation and encouragement.
“As a last resort police officers will use their discretion around whether the issuing of fines. This approach is not one we would take lightly and we are fortunate that the vast majority of people not only in our counties but across the country are staying home and protecting lives. I would like to thank those within Devon and Cornwall who continue to do their part in reducing the strain on our NHS.
“Whilst we finalise the technology that will allow my officers to issue these fines directly, the option of reporting and summonsing to court is available to them.
“I would like to emphasise that policing by consent remains our priority. We will continue to use discretion and only use enforcement as a last resort.
“Thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.”