The Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner have issued a renewed appeal to the people of Swindon and Wiltshire to support the police’s efforts in ensuring everyone is adhering to the Government’s COVID restrictions.
This week the Prime Minister told the country that we were seeing a rise in virus cases and that further action was needed to try to bring the situation under control.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said officers had been focusing on engaging with our communities about the importance of the restrictions, but people needed to be clear that they would use enforcement measures when necessary.
He said: “Here in Wiltshire we have seen that the vast majority of people are complying with the rules, and I want to thank everyone for their support.
“However, it is clear that we need to have a more targeted approach to ensure that the small minority who continuously and deliberately breach the restrictions are dealt with appropriately.
“The Government has made it clear that it expects police forces to assist with the enforcement of the restrictions and, in turn, help keep the wider public safe.
“We will continue to engage with people and encourage them to stick to the rules, but we will have no hesitation in issuing fines or making arrests when needed.
“Alongside our dedicated Community Support Officers, all of our officers, special constables and operational police staff continue to play an active part in policing the restrictions.”
As part of the response to the latest round of measures from the Government, Wiltshire Police is putting plans in place to increase proactive, high profile patrols so that dedicated Police Community Support Officers are available to monitor behaviour and respond to COVID-related reports from the public.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “I support the tougher line being taken by the Chief Constable, in adopting an approach that is less about engagement and more about enforcement.
“We have now had six months to get used to the new restrictions and it is something we should all be making part of our lives. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of people who have been playing their part by following the guidance from the medical professionals.
“If you are now not wearing a mask and adopting the other measures to protect yourself and others you shouldn’t be surprised to be issued a fixed penalty notice.”
The Government has also pledged £60million for police forces and local authorities to assist with enforcing the COVID restrictions.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said he was still waiting for clarity on how this money would be allocated and what it would be used for.
“This funding pledge acknowledges that up until now police forces have been expected to take on this extra role while coping with the current high levels of demand on the service.
“Although any funding is always welcome, the public also needs to be aware that this money will not magically allow us to recruit more police officers.
“What it may do is allow us to pay overtime to more police officers and staff, but we would obviously need to be careful not to stretch an already overworked and under pressure workforce.”
People are being encouraged to visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus to keep up to date with the latest Covid19 restrictions and any exemptions.
If you wish to report a COVID-related concern to the police, we would urge you to do this online, to free up our 101 and 999 phone lines. You can do this by going to www.wiltshire.police.uk and clicking on the Report button.