Police chief warns that crimes will have to be ignored to enforce draconian coronavirus lockdown


Police officers across the UK have today started using draconian powers to disperse crowds of more than two to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Fines of up to £1,000 are planned for those who flout rules announced by the Prime Minister last night putting strict limits on when people are able to leave the house, and banning public gatherings.

And officers were seen breaking up a group in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre this afternoon, including four people who appeared to be sitting too close together on benches.

Met Police also spoke to people gathered in groups larger than two in central London parks. 

Today experts warned forces will have to ignore some crime in order to tackle Britain’s coronavirus lockdown as officers warned that under-staffed forces will struggle to enforce draconian new movement rules.

Police disperse a group in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre today as officers enforce Boris Johnson’s new powers to stop groups of more than two people congregating

Police moved the group apart and sent them on their way with people warned they could be fined £1,000

Police moved the group apart and sent them on their way with people warned they could be fined £1,000

Met officers also spoke to groups on benches in St James' Park close to Buckingham Palace

Met officers also spoke to groups on benches in St James’ Park close to Buckingham Palace

Police officers patrol in an empty Trafalgar Square, which would usually be teeming with tourists

Police officers patrol in an empty Trafalgar Square, which would usually be teeming with tourists

Frontline officers are being ‘spat and coughed at’ as coronavirus is ‘used as a weapon’ 

Police attempting to deal with a serious incident in West Yorkshire were spat and coughed at by a large crowd they were trying to disperse.

West Yorkshire Police PC Rachel Storey posted on Twitter: ‘So whilst scene guarding at a serious incident tonight we were faced with large crowds shoulder to shoulder, spitting on the floor and coughing at us when asking them to move back.

‘Yes coughing then the target of egg throwers on passing motorbikes…. just WHY? no excuse!’

Police Sergeant Charlotte Nicholls added: ‘It was just vile..I had to wash my boots last night when I got home as I couldn’t stop thinking about the amount of spit id stood in!!’

PC Storey replied: ‘I know I’ve also sprayed them with Dettol it’s hard enough without this’.

A Sussex Police officer was also coughed at on Thursday morning by a driver he had pulled over on the M25 who claimed to have Covid-19.

The van driver, who was stopped for using his phone, was found to have no vehicle tax from 2018, no MOT and an illegal tyre.

Police Federation of England and Wales chairman John Apter said officers would have to make touch decisions about law and order as they were called upon to keep people at home as much as possible.

Mr Apter also said officers on the frontline pandemic battle are being deliberately coughed and spat at by ‘vile creatures’ using coronavirus as a weapon.

But senior figures have warned that the stringent measures, similar to those already in place in Italy, will be ‘challenging’ with forces across the UK having far fewer officers to call upon than authorities in Rome – with shortages of up to 20,000 officers.

Mr Apter told the BBC today:  It’s going to be really tough and what we have to get across to the public is that as far as policing is concerned it is not business as usual.

‘The normal things my colleagues, officers, would normally go to, we need to decide what it is we cannot go to any more.

‘Because dealing with this partial lock-down is going to put incredible amounts of pressure on my colleagues – and they are up for this.’

His warning came after former GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy contraasted the police numbers in Italy with those here.

Sir Peter told BBC Breakfast: ‘If you compare us to Italy, we have about half the number of police officers that they have. 

‘We don’t have a paramilitary police force like the Carabinieri. Our police officers are already very stretched.

Police Federation of England and Wales chairman John Apter said officers would have to make touch decisions about law and order as they were called upon to keep people at home as much as possible

Police Federation of England and Wales chairman John Apter said officers would have to make touch decisions about law and order as they were called upon to keep people at home as much as possible

‘It will require a huge amount of public support, public acceptance and public compliance because if officers are going to be dispersing groups they are going to be asking about things like ‘is there a power of arrest?’ and that will then tie up more and more officers.

‘So, really, there is no way that this can be achieved through enforcement alone. 

‘It will have to be that the public hugely accept it and the government continues to issue clarification and reinforces the message.’ 

Police have also warned that they will have to ignore other crime if they are switched to focusing on coronavirus.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today said that if people continue to flout the rules police should check ID of workers and use their powers to disperse crowds, which include issuing fines or even arresting those who should be in self-isolation. 

Police officers will get new powers to issue the fines and make such arrrests when the Coronavirus Bill becomes law on Thursday. 

They will reportedly start at £30 but rise sharply to four figures if the public fail to heed orders to stay at home. 

Travellers in the capital could not stick to social distancing on their Tube journey to work this morning, hours after the Prime Minister warned all but essential workers to stay at home.

Mr Khan demanded that employers enable their staff to work from home ‘unless it’s absolutely necessary’, adding: ‘Ignoring these rules means more lives lost. Some of the people on the Tube yesterday and today are not essential workers, I can tell you that’. He added that many packed on to trains appeared to be heading to building sites.

British Transport Police patrol the perimeter of Bristol Temple Meads train station, which is empty of rush-hour commuters and travelers

British Transport Police patrol the perimeter of Bristol Temple Meads train station, which is empty of rush-hour commuters and travelers

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today said that if people continue to flout the rules police should check ID of workers and use their powers to disperse crowds, which include issuing fines or even arresting those who should be in self-isolation

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today said that if people continue to flout the rules police should check ID of workers and use their powers to disperse crowds, which include issuing fines or even arresting those who should be in self-isolation

He added that if people continue to flout the rules police should check ID of workers and use their powers to disperse crowds, which include issuing fines or even arresting those who should be in self-isolation.

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown backed by 93 PER CENT of the public – poll finds

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown is backed by 93 per cent of Britons, according to a poll today.

But in a potentially worrying sign for the PM, two-thirds believe that the extraordinary curbs will be easy to obey. 

 

The announcement by the PM last night mean that everyone must stay inside unless it is absolutely essential.

Gatherings of more than two people have been banned in the most dramatic restrictions on freedom ever seen in Britain in time of peace or war. 

But research by YouGov shows the measures have overwhelming endorsement from the public,

Many people were nose-to-nose with people on the Tube, trains and buses as well as platforms despite being told to be two metres apart to avoid catching coronavirus, which has claimed 335 lives so far.     

Sir Peter said greater clarity was needed on a range of practical issues like people moving house and students coming back from university.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think the Government needs to continue to close down businesses and other parts of operations to limit the places that people can be going, but absolutely at the same time reinforcing the message and clarifying as far as possible all those individual issues.

‘We don’t really want 43 separate police forces in England and Wales interpreting this in different ways and individual officers being faced with real dilemmas about whether to allow this or not to allow it.’ 

The chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation last night cast doubt on officers’ ability to deal with Boris Johnson’s lockdown – meaning the Army may need to help enforce the strict new coronavirus measures. 

In his address to the nation Mr Johnson said if people do not follow the new rules officers ‘will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings’. 

Police will be able to fine people £30 if they ignore the rules and these on-the-spot fines will be ‘ramped up’ if there is widespread flouting, the government has said.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the lockdown plans would be 'very difficult' and he was already seeing 'large amounts of sickness' among officers across London

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the lockdown plans would be ‘very difficult’ and he was already seeing ‘large amounts of sickness’ among officers across London

Police gather at Newcastle's Monument, moving on people who gather in a bid keep the population social distancing in order to stop the coronavirus spreading on Monday

Police gather at Newcastle’s Monument, moving on people who gather in a bid keep the population social distancing in order to stop the coronavirus spreading on Monday

Coronavirus UK: New lockdown measures in full

Boris Johnson tonight announced a lockdown plan to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the UK as he told the nation to stay at home. 

People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following ‘very limited’ purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day.

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary. 

Meanwhile, the PM has announced a ban on: 

Meeting with friends. 

Meeting with family members you do not live with. 

All weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals. 

All gatherings of more than two people in public.  

The PM said the police will have the powers to enforce the lockdown measures through fines and dispersing gatherings. 

To ensure people comply the government is also: 

Closing all shops selling non-essential goods. 

Closing all libraries, playground,  outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but will be patrolled.  

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the lockdown plans would be ‘very difficult’ and he was already seeing ‘large amounts of sickness’ among officers across London.

Michael Gove forced to apologise after WRONGLY saying children of separated parents cannot travel between homes

Michael Gove was forced to apologise this morning after telling separated parents their children cannot travel between their homes during the coronavirus lockdown – because they are allowed to. 

The Cabinet Office Minister appeared on GMB after Boris Johnson’s momentous decision last night to bring in the most stringent peacetime restrictions on the UK’s way of life.

The Prime Minister ordered all but essential workers to remain at home and cease all non-essential travel to combat the spread of the virus, which has so far killed 335 Britons.

But questioned by Susannah Reid Mr Gove told GMBs audience, which includes a high number of anxious mothers and fathers, that youngsters would not be allowed out of one parent’s home to go to the other, if they lives apart.

But this caused an uproar, as official advice issued by the Government last night said that under-18s are among those allowed out of homes if they need to go to their other parent.

Mr Gove swiftly took to Twitter after his interview to say: ‘I wasn’t clear enough earlier, apologies.

‘To confirm – while children should not normally be moving between households, we recognise that this may be necessary when children who are under 18 move between separated parents. 

‘This is permissible and has been made clear in the guidance.’

He told the BBC: ‘As you quite rightly point out, we haven’t seen one of the 24,000 officers that we lost across the country.

‘So it will be very, very challenging and very difficult for us with what’s put in front of us.

‘But we don’t actually know what is being put in front of us yet other than we’re going to be asked to disperse crowds, it’s going to be a real, real challenge.’ 

In his address to the nation Mr Johnson said you will be allowed to leave your home for the four very limited reasons: 

  • Shopping for basics, as infrequently as possible;
  • Exercise, such as running, walking or cycling, once a day– alone or with those you live with;
  • Travelling to or from work where it is impossible to work from home;
  • To care for a vulnerable person or attend an urgent medical appointment.

Mr Marsh told Sky News that he believed the Army could be drafted should police numbers fall due to illness.

He said: ‘The Army are already in place on the outskirts of London and across the country. And I don’t doubt again for one minute that they will be called if needed.

‘Because if we start losing large numbers in policing terms, through isolation and actually having Covid-19, then they are going to step in and support us in some way.

‘It could be tailored in quite quickly and I would save that everything is on the table.’

The Prime Minister intervened with the new restrictions after pictures emerged this week showing people taking advantage of the warm weather on parks and beaches and flouting government guidelines on social distancing.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he ‘could not imagine’ how officers would police the ban on gatherings of more than two people.

Referring to Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s earlier comments that police require people to follow the rules, he said: ‘I would urge politicians to think before they make such bold statements.

‘I just cannot rationally think how that would work.’  

Police parked at the gates to Greenwich Park on March 22, after people were urged not to visit their mother's

Police parked at the gates to Greenwich Park on March 22, after people were urged not to visit their mother’s

Boris Johnson plunged the UK into coronavirus lockdown tonight - ordering the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods as well as playgrounds and churches

Boris Johnson plunged the UK into coronavirus lockdown tonight – ordering the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods as well as playgrounds and churches 

The Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police tweeted: ‘Please do not cripple our phone lines with enquiries as to what you can and cannot do during the conditions imposed by the Prime Minister this evening.

‘As soon as we have further clarity on permitted movements, we will upload a specific page on our web site.’

Humberside Police said: ‘We’ve had many calls on our 101 line from people seeking answers, but at this stage we are not able to answer all of your enquiries.’ 

Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, added: ‘Measures to ensure social distancing have so far not had the necessary effect.

‘These new measures are sensible, based on scientific evidence and give people clarity on the exact steps they must take to stop the rapid transmission of this disease.

‘The majority of people are already making real sacrifices to save lives and we urge everyone to follow the advice that is designed to keep us all safe.

‘We are working with the government and other agencies to consider how these new rules can be most effectively enforced.’

On Monday evening the Prime Minister detailed a short list of reasons why individuals can leave their homes as he ordered the immediate closure of all shops selling non-essentials items on Monday evening.

He ordered people to only leave the house to shop for basic necessities ‘as infrequently as possible’ and to perform one form of exercise a day.

Or they could seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if ‘absolutely necessary’, he said in a televised address from within Downing Street.

‘That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home,’ he said.

‘You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

‘If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.’

To ensure people follow the rules, Mr Johnson ordered the immediate closure of non-essential stores including those selling electronics and clothing.

All public gatherings of more than two people – other than those they live with – will be barred, the PM said.

Pedestrians walk across Clapham Common in south London, despite government advice to stay at home where possible

Pedestrians walk across Clapham Common in south London, despite government advice to stay at home where possible

Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue.

Hotels and campsites will now join pubs, cafes and restaurants in being closed to slow the disease’s spread.

Mr Johnson said the measures will be ‘under constant review’ and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks’ time if the evidence allows.

He said that ‘no prime minister wants to enact measures like this’ as he reminded the public of the support programme to aid ailing businesses and struggling individuals.

But he said the drastic new measures allowing people to only leave home for the ‘very limited purposes’ were necessary to slow the spread of the disease.

‘To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well,’ he added.

Boris Johnson’s address to the nation in full on Monday evening

Good Evening. The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope – and save more lives.

And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all – the time has now come for us all to do more.

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.

Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.

That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

And travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.

You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:

Close all shops selling non-essential goods,​ including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.

We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with.

And we’ll stop all social events​, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.

I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.

Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

With the time you buy – by simply staying at home – we are increasing our stocks of equipment.

We are accelerating our search for treatments.

We are pioneering work on a vaccine.

And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.

Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.

But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted. Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together.

To halt the spread of this disease. To protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.

And I know that as they have in the past so many times. The people of this country will rise to that challenge.

And we will come through it stronger than ever. We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives. Thank you.

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