Thames Valley chief constable responds to force's use of lockdown penalties
The chief constable of Thames Valley Police has defended his force's use of 219 Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of the covid-19 lockdown rules.
Between 27 March to 13 April the force issued the fines to people who were flouting the rules.
Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said: “This is an unprecedented public health emergency and an extraordinary national effort is needed to fight this virus.
“Since the new measures were introduced we have had thousands of positive interactions with the public and the overwhelming majority of people have had either a legitimate purpose for being out, or have listened to the advice given by our officers.
“However, on some occasions we have had to enforce the legislation. In the last three weeks we have fined a total of 219 people of the 2.3 million population in the Thames Valley.
“Most of the fines we have issued have been to groups, inappropriately gathering together in public places, or driving together in a car, for example ten fines were given to one group alone.
“We have also made a number of arrests which have led to people being jailed for breaching Coronavirus restrictions or coughing at officers or members of the public.
“Some of these breaches have been identified by patrol officers but a significant number have been reported by the public. In particular this Easter Weekend, as with many Forces, we had a significant increase in these types of calls.
“We will continue to engage with the public, explain the restrictions and encourage people to stay indoors. However, when necessary, we will take enforcement action if people are not listening to the advice and are putting others at risk.
“The restrictions are in place to protect the public and protect the NHS.
“The great majority of the public have been staying in and stopping the spread of the pandemic, and I want to thank them for their ongoing cooperation and support.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld expressed his support for the measures that the force is taking.
He said: “We entirely support the approach of Thames Valley Police in engaging with the public, explaining why the new rules are so important, encouraging people to follow the rules and, as a last resort, enforcing.
“Some of those issued with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were also charged with other serious offences not related to Coronavirus. As one of the largest forces in the country covering one of the largest populations, and also the force with the largest roads network, I would expect Thames Valley Police to issue more FPNs than most other forces.
“We have found that compliance within the Thames Valley is extremely good and I’d like to personally thank members of the public who are doing their bit and staying home. We will continue to monitor the situation closely as the pandemic progresses and have every confidence in Chief Constable John Campbell and his team.”