Police order urgent Covid crackdown with instant fines for not wearing masks ‘Action now!’
Officers in the London police force have been instructed to issue fines more quickly for anyone found to be in breach of the new instructions. It comes after the Prime Minister announced a new strict lockdown to try to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus this week. The police had originally practised the “engaging, explaining, and encouraging – only then enforcing” approach.
However, with cases skyrocketing, the Met will now operate a stricter strategy and fine all those attending parties, large gatherings or unlicensed music events.
Initially, this had just been for those who organised the event.
People who do not wear face masks where they should may be given a fine.
At the moment, these rules only apply to London but other police forces may follow.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who leads the Met’s 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.
“This is why Londoners must take action now to stop this virus spreading further across our city.
“Action now by everyone will help reduce the time our Capital must live with these restrictions and crucially, will prevent more people from dying needlessly because of this virus.
“It’s up to us all to do the right thing.”
The new guidance from the Met comes after the police force struggled to stop the increased number of gatherings and protests since the end of the first lockdown.
Like other areas in the South and South East, London has been hit by the new mutant strain of the virus.
Due to the new strain, many boroughs in the capital have seen case levels rise to some of the highest in the country.
Currently, Barking and Dagenham in east London, has the highest in the country with 1,447 cases per 100,000 people, according to NHS England.
Enfield, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Newham, Sutton and Waltham Forest are all also seeing case levels above 1,000.