COPS have today warned Londoners they will randomly stop people who leave their home and hand out £200 fines to anyone not wearing a mask when they should be.
Scotland Yard this morning vowed to quiz those in the capital who have fewer “reasonable excuses” to be away from their home as the lockdown comes into force today.
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Police will be able to issue fines and break crowds up as the country goes into a new national lockdownCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Metropolitan Police Federation boss Ken Marsh said enforcing the new national lockdown will put “a lot of pressure” on copsCredit: Twitter
Fixed penalty notices of £200 will be issued for a first offence, with this doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Cops have warned that anyone attending parties, unlicensed music events or large illegal gatherings will be fined – not just the organisers.
Those holding, or involved in holding, an illegal gathering of more than 30 people risk a police-issued fine of £10,000.
Meanwhile, people not wearing masks where they should be, and without good reason, will also be fined.
The warning comes as the Met Police said Londoners can expect officers to be “more inquisitive” as to why they see them out and about.
Local officers will also be working with council colleagues across the capital to help ensure businesses and people using public spaces such as parks are following the rules.
During the first lockdown in March, cops set up roadblocks, patrolled stations and parks and handed out fines.
This seemed to stop towards the end of the year but the new guidance suggests police are once again adopting a zero-tolerance policy.
If people continue to break the rules, putting themselves, their families and their communities at greater risk, our officers are ready to act robustly.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist
It comes after Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said enforcing the new national lockdown will put “a lot of pressure” on cops.
He said some 1,300 were off sick or self-isolating in the capital.
His counterpart nationally, John Apter, said some forces were reporting 15% of their staff off sick or self-isolating.
Mr Marsh urged the Government to place police officers on a priority list to receive coronavirus vaccines, saying requests to the Government so far were “falling on deaf ears”.
Asked about how lockdown enforcement would affect officers, Mr Marsh said: “It will obviously create a lot of pressure on us because we have a lot more officers off this time than we did back in March.
“Our numbers have rocketed in terms of officers with Covid and officers isolating and we envisage that getting worse.
“So the pressure is on my colleagues who are still out there to maintain the same level that they did before.”
Mr Apter, whose organisation represents 130,000 officers, said the “last thing the public want is to call 999 in their hour of need, only to find we are too short of officers to be able to respond”.
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.
What you could be fined for
You could face a fine for:
- Being out of your home without a reasonable excuse as below
- Travelling abroad or going on holiday during the lockdown period – as this is not a reasonable excuse
- Breaking Covid rules by having others outside your household inside your home
- Meeting people outside your household outside – unless it’s one person for exercise alone
- Hosting a gathering – this could see you get a fine of up to £10,000
- Businesses or venues can be fined up to £10,000 too for continuing to operate despite being ordered to shut
- Not wearing a face covering on public transport or in shops
A full list of reasons are set to be published by the Government in due course.
The excuses are expected to include:
- Work: If you have to go to work as you really can’t work from home, this will be allowed. Key workers such as those who work for the police, or NHS, will be permitted to do so
- School: only for the kids of key workers or vulnerable pupils
- Exercise: Boris will continue to allow unlimited exercise outdoors. That means people can carry on going for walks, runs and other forms of exercise outdoors if they wish. You can do that with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household
- Food, drink & supplies: People will still be allowed out to collect food and drink – such as at the supermarket, or take-aways
- Medical appointments: Everyone will be urged to continue to attend hospital and doctor appointments if they need to
- To escape injury or harm; those at risk of harm are allowed to leave their current home and move elsewhere
- To provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer: people will still be allowed to travel to care for people who need it, or attend volunteer work too
“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.”