New laws are the 'sting in the tail' to stop Covid rule breakers
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New Covid-19 restrictions, which were imposed on Wednesday, September 30, add to a growing list of rules communities in the North East must abide by as coronavirus cases continue to soar.
ACC Scott Hall says the new rules provide a necessary ‘sting in the tail’ for those who continue to flout the rules which are put in place to ‘keep everyone safe’.
Although he hopes the police powers and monetary fines will work as a deterrent to those considering breaching the new legislation, the force is prepared to ‘knock on the doors’ of those who continue to systematically breach the rules.
ACC Hall says the previous guidance was about appealing to ‘people’s good nature and asking for some maturity around abiding by the spirit of what was trying to be achieved’.
"What we’ve learnt is, because there was no sting in the tail, certain individuals – and this is the minority – have continued to engage in practices which are placing everyone at risk. That’s demonstrated by the escalating R number to the region,” said ACC Hall.
Three new task forces have now been sent up to combat those breaching the new laws.
And ACC Hall says, although it will look at each incident, those who break the rules should prepare to face the consequences.
"I think it is fair to say where there is systematic breaching of the rules - that was willful and undertaken knowingly – then Northumbria Police would be prepared to knock on doors and use legislation as it has been enacted,” said ACC Hall.
"It is a challenge for everybody and it has a real impact on families being able to come together and celebrate together, we’ve got Christmas on the horizon. I absolutely understand the pressures that are being placed on individuals.”
He added that the sooner people are prepared to follow the rules and work together, the sooner the restrictions can be removed.
However, with no extra funding from the Government, ACC Hall admits it’s a ‘challenge’ to balance the available resources with the force's daily demand.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said the armed forces could be drafted in to free up police. ACC Hall said: “I was aware that had been discussed but I’m not really clear on any circumstances in which we would take that position, certainly in the North East in the short term.”
ACC Hall says he hopes Northumbria Police is not in a position where they have to respond to breaches but where people are putting themselves and others at risk they will act.
"The enforcement does carry with it a financial penalty and my expectation is that such a financial penalty will act as a deterrent. It will hopefully work to educate those who seek to engage in such activity to think twice about it in the future.”