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Guidance issued on new police powers

College advise 'common-sense' approach

The Public Health Regulations 2020 bill came into effect today, granting the police new powers to enforce the lockdown placed on the UK by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday 23 March.

The guidelines, which have been issued by the government in partnership with the Police Federation of England and Wales, the National Police Chief's Council, and the College of Policing, will follow a common-sense approach defined by the "Four E's" - Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce:

Engage - officers will initially encourage voluntary compliance.

Explain - officers will stress the risks to public health and to the NHS. Educate people about the risks and the wider social factors.

Encourage - officers will seek compliance and emphasise the benefits to the NHS by staying at home, how this can save lives and reduce risk for more vulnerable people in society.

Enforce - officers will direct individuals to return to the place where they live. This may include providing reasonable instruction of the route by which the person is required to return. Officers may also remove that person to the place where they live, using reasonable force where it is a necessary and proportionate means of ensuring compliance.

Under the new legislation, police officers seeing members of the public breaking quarantine have the power to:

  • Instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse
  • Ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
  • Issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
  • Issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence.
  • Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the Regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
  • If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "We are in unprecedented and uncertain times, but one thing remains constant: saving lives and protecting the public is the number one priority for the police. It is essential that we all come together and play our part in doing so.

"The practicalities of policing this lockdown will be challenging, but these new powers will assist us in keeping the public safe. We welcome the College's advice in implementing these powers and rest assured, it is not a responsibility that any of us take lightly."

To read the full guidelines, visit the College of Policing website, or read our FAQs.