West Midlands officers to take action more swiftly on anyone flouting lockdown rules

West Midlands Police is ramping up enforcement action against people who flout lockdown rules, in a bid to reduce Covid-19 infection rates.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Claire Bell
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Claire Bell

During the pandemic the force has adopted a policy of speaking to people before administering fines. While this will continue, officers have now been ordered to move more swiftly onto enforcement – particularly for repeat offenders and those who organise large gatherings.

Since the 'rule of six' came in the force has given 50 "directions to leave", where people have been ordered to move away from an area. On nine occasions people were dispersed by officers, and six £100 fines have been handed out.

It came as the force revealed it was now receiving around 200 calls a day to its 101 number from people reporting rule breaches.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Claire Bell, said: "We will continue to encourage people to comply with the regulations before we take any enforcement action.

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"But what we are saying with the new regulations is that where we see people wilfully flouting the rules, we are prepared to take enforcement action more swiftly in order to keep people safe.

"Individuals should be aware that if they are repeatedly flouting the rule of six, then we will take enforcement action.

"Where there are big gatherings we will target the organisers, but we do ask anyone who is participating in those gatherings to think of their personal responsibilities.

"This is an opportunity for us to curtail the infection in our region, and if we don't take action quickly we are likely to see lives being lost."

The move will see extra officers deployed at times when large gatherings are more likely, with "targeted intervention work" in high risk areas such as bus stations.

Resources

The West Midlands currently has four areas of national intervention, with Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Solihull all under extra restrictions banning people from visiting other homes.

Temporary ACC Bell said the force was encouraging people to report breaches, particularly large gatherings.

She said resources were stretched due to crime across the region returning to pre-pandemic levels.

"We would ask the public to trust our judgement in how we deal with any reports," she added.

Officers descended on Wolverhampton in recent days to check on licensed premises and found that the vast majority of places were sticking to the regulations.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Waheed Saleem said "high profile patrols" were being stepped up to check that licensed premises and also hospitality venues were closing at 10pm as the new rules require.

"This is on the back of the fact that crime levels are going back to pre-Covid levels, crimes like domestic violence up by 35 per cent, murder rate is significantly increased and violence is also up as well and we're dealing with a number of incidents of gang tension and violence," he added.

Mr Saleem said the force had received a number of reports of large weddings over the past week.

"I would like to remind people that we do have the power of fining people who organise illegal gatherings – including large weddings – up to £10,000," he said.

"I'm sure people who organise these weddings would rather spend the £10,000 on their honeymoon on other things than putting money into the Government coffers, so I would urge people to re-think their plans over this weekend and the coming weeks and reduce the guest list size to 15 or postpone the wedding because these are potential places where the virus can spread very quickly."

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