MPS to adopt new hard-line approach to Covid enforcement
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is to adopt a more hard-line approach to the enforcement of Covid-19 in response to a rise in the number of blatant breaches.
In a shift from current practice, the force said that all those attending parties, unlicensed music events or large illegal gatherings, can now expect to be fined. Previously only the organisers of such events have been reported for fines while guests and other attendees have been allowed to leave.
The force also said that anyone refusing to wear a mask without a good reason can now expect to be fined rather than reasoned with.
A statement issued by the force said: “Although officers will still apply the four ‘Es’ approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging – and only then enforcing. The MPS has issued refreshed instructions to officers to issue fines more quickly to anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches.
“Additionally, with fewer ‘reasonable excuses’ for people to be away from their home in the regulations, Londoners can expect officers to be more inquisitive as to why they see them out and about. Where officers identify people without a lawful reason to be away from home they can expect officers to move more quickly to enforcement.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who leads the MPS response to the Covid pandemic, said: “After ten months of this pandemic the number of people who are genuinely not aware of the restrictions and the reasons they are in place is vanishingly small.
“We know the overwhelming majority of Londoners will do the right thing by staying at home, wearing masks and not gathering, but a small minority continue to ignore rules put in place to protect the NHS and save lives.
“Our first duty as police officers is to preserve life. The critical situation our NHS colleagues are facing and the way the new virus variant moves through communities, means we can no longer spend our time explaining or encouraging people to follow rules where they are wilfully and dangerously breaching.
“Less than a month ago we launched a new digital fines system, which makes it quicker and easier for officers to issue fines on the spot. Since its launch more people have been reported for fines than in the rest of the year combined; this is also an indicator of a worsening position in the epidemic, and officers stepping in more quickly to try to keep communities safe.
“I hope it is not necessary for this particular trend to carry on but if people continue to break the rules, putting themselves, their families and their communities at greater risk, our officers are ready to act robustly.”