Police enforcement of the rules put in place to slow the spread of the CCP virus will be ramped up in the UK during the country’s third national lockdown.
Officers will impose fines more readily, and not knowing the rules will not be accepted as an excuse for breaking them, London’s Metropolitan Police (Met) said in a statement on Wednesday.
“In practice this will mean that all those attending parties, unlicensed music events, or large illegal gatherings, can expect to be fined—not just the organisers of such events,” the Met said.
“Similarly, those not wearing masks where they should be and without good reason can expect to be fined—not reasoned with.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who heads the Met’s response to the pandemic, said there are few people now who are unaware of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions.
“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,” he said.
Twist’s remarks were echoed by other UK police chiefs, who reportedly predict more breaches of the curbs as the public become less tolerant of the government’s Stay at Home restrictions limiting household and social mixing, and which say people cannot leave their homes without a legally defined “reasonable excuse.”
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said more enforcement should be expected as police apply “one consistent rule for people to follow across the whole country, which means it is easier for people to understand the rules and comply with them,” according to The Daily Mail.
“There really are no excuses for not knowing the rules this time,” he said.
Chief Constable of South Wales Jeremy Vaughan told The Telegraph that the increasing number of fines his force had issued in recent weeks were to people “who clearly ought to have known that they are breaking the regulations because we’ve been doing this for a long time now.”
Penalties for breaching rules are a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £200 ($272) for the first offence, doubling on further offences up to a maximum of £6,400 ($8,693), while those holding an event of over 30 people risk a £10,000 ($13,583) fine.
South Wales Police issued 430 FPNs in December, 43 of which were on New Year’s Eve. The UK’s police have faced increasing challenges during the pandemic as both party-goers and protesters against the curbs have pushed back against the rules.
Despite the lean toward more stringent enforcement, the force’s ability to continue to properly police the crisis is being pressured, according to Apter, with some regions reporting up to 15 percent of officers off sick or self-isolating.
“This is getting worse and is simply not sustainable,” he said in an opinion article in The Telegraph.
“We don’t have an endless box of police officers to deal with the regular daily demands, let alone the additional demands that policing the pandemic creates.”
On Tuesday, Apter called on the government to make the police a priority group for receiving a vaccine to prevent more officers being off sick, which would “threaten the resilience of the police service across the UK.”