Keep safe and report COVID concerns
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Please read the clear guidance on how you can keep yourselves and others safe by visiting gov.uk/coronavirus
Updated: Saturday 31 October
A statement from Assistant Chief Constable, Rachel Nolan following this evening's government announcement:
"All of us have been affected by the impact of coronavirus in some way and the enormity of this cannot be underestimated.
"Our focus has always been and will continue to be to protect and serve our communities.
"Our officers have taken a fair and common-sense approach to policing the government's COVID-19 measures and we will continue with this approach.
"We will continue to engage with people, explain the regulations and encourage people to the right thing.
“Where reasoned attempts to encourage someone to stick to the regulations have been unsuccessful, and where necessary and proportionate, we will take enforcement action.
“We know this is a really challenging time and we’re all having to make sacrifices, but your efforts do make a difference.
“I would like to thank all those who have followed the government legislation and guidance, taking steps to protect themselves and others and helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Updated: Friday 16 October
The Government has confirmed that everyone living in the Essex County Council area will move to the high COVID alert level from 00:01 on Saturday 17 October.
This excludes people living in the areas under the Southend Borough Council and Thurrock Council areas.
- You can’t meet anyone indoors who is not part of your household or support bubble, whether at home or in a public place
- Different households can meet outdoors in public spaces but must stick to the 'Rule of Six'
- All pubs and restaurants will continue to close between 10pm and 5am
- Reduce travel where you can
- Continue to regularly wash hands, keep your face covered and remain 2 metres apart.
Essex Police will continue to engage with people, explain the regulations, and encourage people to do the right thing.
Last month we had more than 2,000 conversations with people to remind them about the coronavirus regulations and why it is important to stay safe. We'll continue to be out in your communities doing more of the same.
Essex Police officers will be on patrol and in some cases may work alongside council staff across the wider County as they would do normally. The police’s current and pragmatic approach to keeping people safe is unchanged, and remains:
- encourage and if necessary
- enforce the coronavirus legislation
Where reasoned attempts to encourage someone to stick to the guidelines have been unsuccessful, and where appropriate, we will take enforcement action.
Thank you to everyone for all the sacrifices you have been making - your efforts do make a difference and together as a community we will get through these really challenging times.
By following the regulations you help us to focus our main efforts on what we do best – catching criminals, helping people, and keeping people safe.
If you see a clear and blatant breach of the regulations where you live, you can let us know about it quickly and effectively using our Digital 101 online reporting service.
Updated: Wednesday 16 September
We’re urging you to keep doing what you’ve been doing now the Government’s ‘Rule of Six’ regulations have come into force.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “I know the last few months have been really challenging for everyone.
“The vast majority of people across Essex have been doing the right thing and I want to thank you for that.
“We are now being asked to go that little bit further again and not meet up with friends or family in groups of more than six.
“I know that’ll be really tough for some people and I appreciate the sacrifices we’re being making to help keep everyone safe.
“My officers will continue to be out across Essex, in your communities.
“Our approach has been, and will continue to be, engaging with the public, explaining the regulations, and encouraging people to do the right thing.
“We’ve found that approach has been really successful.
“Where it is absolutely necessary, reasoned conversations have failed, and it’s right to do so, we will issue people with fines.
“The compassion, resilience, and determination from the community to keep each other safe has been outstanding and is important to getting us through these unprecedented times.
“Our job is to protect and serve the people of Essex, catch criminals and keep you all safe.
“We’ll be out patrolling our open spaces and town centres to tackle any criminals who may seek to take advantage of the situation through anti-social behaviour or by attempting to carry out more serious crimes.
“Please keep reporting anything criminal or suspicious to us. We are here to protect and serve the county.”
Updated: Wednesday 1 July
Working together to keep everyone safe as more businesses reopen
Police officers across the county have been working with licensing colleagues in the run up to pubs and restaurants reopening on Saturday.
We all want to make sure everyone enjoys their return to their favourite places, but we should stay alert and help each other stay safe.
It’s worth noting that things will look and feel different. The businesses which are reopening need to ensure everyone can maintain social distancing.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan, lead for local policing in Essex, said:
“Everyone from local councils to businesses including shops, pubs and restaurants, have come together to get things moving again across the county.
“They want to make shopping and socialising safe, and the police will work closely with them to make sure that criminals don’t take advantage of the situation.
“Everyone needs to continue to take responsibility for their own safety when they are out and about, and also look out for the safety of others.
“Essex was united during lockdown, and we must remain united as we begin our safe return to high streets and businesses across the county.”
Updated: Tuesday 16 June
Thank you for your support as more businesses and public places begin to open
We want to say thank you for the enormous efforts of the Essex community, which have been fundamental in getting us all through the challenging and uncertain times we’ve been facing.
Although we are all adjusting to a new way of working and socialising, the community spirit we’ve experienced while on patrol and in our everyday work with residents, businesses and organisations has remained strong.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan said: “All of us have been affected by the impact of coronavirus in some way and the enormity of this cannot be underestimated.
“The compassion, resilience and dedication from the community to keep each other safe has been outstanding and also so vitally important to getting us through these unprecedented times.
“Our focus has always been protecting and serving the people of Essex and we continue to engage with members of the public, and working with our partners to help people, keep them safe and catch criminals.”
Shops and businesses are among the bedrocks of our communities and just like you we’re looking forward to welcoming them back as more are able to reopen from this week.
As we see more shops and public places starting to open, it remains crucial that we all continue to stay alert and stay safe, while supporting our local businesses and enjoying the beauty spots and attractions our county has to offer.
During a recent patrol in Colchester, ACC Nolan met Steve Quinn, who is among the traders who has recently returned to work.
His fruit and veg stall in Colchester High Street has been serving customers for more than five years.
Steve, who has been back on his pitch for about five weeks, said: “It’s just nice to be back to work. We are taking the necessary precautions with hand sanitisers for customers and one way systems, and trying to get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Our local councils have also been working hard to keep key services running, supporting businesses and residents with the challenges they have been facing, and ensuring our community facilities are safe for people to use.
Just one example of this is the Colchester Borough Council staff who have been helping to keep Castle Park open so residents can continue to enjoy the popular beauty spot for their daily exercise.
PCSO Wayne March, from the Town Centre Team, has been supporting them most days to engage with members of the public and ensure everyone has safely left before the park it closes in the evening.
Cllr Mike Lilley, Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “It is testament to the value of our partnership work with the police that we have been able to meet the many difficult challenges set by these unprecedented times, help enforce the social distancing rules, and keep people safe.
“If there is one thing that we have learned from the coronavirus crisis, it is that individuals and organisations working together, with their hearts and minds focused on serving the common good, can help build safer, more resilient communities and a Better Colchester.”
Colchester district commander Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston said: “We are looking forward to seeing retailers opening safely again in our town centre.
“We have been working closely with the Business Improvement District team, Colchester Borough Council, and town centre businesses to prepare for shops and offices to reopen so that staff and customers can feel safe.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support so far and continue to ask people to continue staying alert and following government guidance to keep safe.”
Updated: Friday 15 May
Chief Constable thanks residents of Essex for helping to save lives
Essex Police’s Chief Constable, Ben-Julian Harrington, has praised the people of Essex for their dedication to keeping people safe over the past eight weeks.
“I’m really pleased to report that we’ve had more than 10,000 engagements with members of the public since the beginning of April, and, in total, fines have been issued to just 1 in every 11,000 people in Essex.
“Our Police Officers, Community Support Officers, and Special Constables have been patrolling day-in and day-out, supported by the many hundreds of dedicated police support staff in Essex. In the overwhelming majority of cases, those on the front line have found that a friendly conversation with the people they have met has been all that’s needed to explain why it has been so important to avoid unnecessary journeys.
“New national statistics tell us that, across the UK, more than half of those who have been fined were already known to the Police in their area. In Essex, of the very few people arrested - 18 in total as of Monday 11 May – many were likely to have been arrested anyway due to their behaviour towards the people of Essex or towards our Officers, who are out protecting and serving the county 24/7.
“We will always stick to the four Es: explain, engage, and encourage, before any enforcement of the law. The law is the only thing we can enforce, but we can encourage people to follow the guidelines.
“Once again, thank you to everyone who has stayed home up until now, and helped to save lives.
“As always, our thoughts are with frontline colleagues in the NHS and in social care, and the key workers and volunteers who have been supporting our local communities during this challenging time.
“Our job is to protect and serve the people of Essex, catch criminals and keep you all safe, and we know that the new phase we are entering this week is a crucial time to get businesses back on their feet. We’ll be out patrolling this weekend and over the Bank Holiday to tackle any criminals who may seek to take advantage of the situation through anti-social behaviour or by attempting to carry out more serious crimes.
“Please keep reporting anything criminal or suspicious to us. We are here to protect and serve the County. When our teams conduct warrants, stop cars, patrol local hotspots for anti-social behaviour, your community is at the forefront of our minds.
“Please always call 999 in an emergency. You can also report crime via our website using this link: https://www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online/report-a-crime/.”
What can you do and what can’t you do?
The Government’s COVID-19 Recovery strategy can be read online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
People in the shielded group with very specific medical conditions who are likely to be at the greatest risk of serious complications from coronavirus, have been advised to continue to shield until the end of June and to do everything they can to stay at home. The Government has a support scheme in place to provide help with access to food and basic supplies, care, medicines and social support.
This guidance is for people in England. When visiting Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you must adhere to the advice of the devolved administrations at all times.
What can you do (England)?
- Spend time outdoors, including exercise, with one person who is not in your household as long as you stay two metres apart
- Exercise more than once a day
- Go for a picnic, to sunbathe or relax and read a book
- Spend time at sports courts, including outdoor tennis, basketball courts and golf courses
- Go fishing on their own, with their household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules
- Drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance. You can travel to outdoor open spaces, in a private vehicle, alone or with members of your own household.
- Travel to beaches and beauty spots. But you should check first if facilities, such as car parks, are open to receive visitors.
- Travel to the countryside – but continue to follow the Countryside Code by respecting the local community and protecting the natural environment
- Go swimming in either lakes or the sea as part of daily exercise provided that social distancing guidelines are observed - advice against using public indoor and outdoor pools remains in place.
This new provision enabling increased outdoor activity does not allow people to:
- Go on holiday
- Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home
- Visit the homes of friends and family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person, for medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared
- Gather with more than one member of another household for recreational reasons e.g. to play group sports
- Swim in a public pool
- Use a playground or outdoor gym
- Exercise in an indoor fitness studio, gym, swimming pool, or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
- Visit a private or ticketed attraction
The full Safer Public Places guidance can be read online: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safer-public-places-urban-centres-and-green-spaces-covid-19
Access to green spaces guidance can be read online: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces
Business like pubs, clubs, restaurants, and theatres will also remain closed.
Owners and operators of public spaces will need to consider the impact of any new measures on people with disabilities and other affected groups and ensure clear information is made available to all users on how they can continue to access public places in a safe way.
The Safer Public Places guidance also encourages owners and operators of public places to increase cleaning at touch points such as handrails and gates, and to ensure there are facilities available for people to maintain good hygiene. Suggestions include replacing hand dryers with paper towels, minimising use of portable toilets and increasing rubbish collections in public places.
Updated: Thursday 9 April
Statement from Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet
I am really pleased that officers report from their patrols across Essex that, in the vast majority of cases, people are only out for the essential reasons set out in the Government and Public Health England guidance.
Officers have been met with comments of support for their work and again I would like to thank the public of Essex for this.
The Government has introduced enforcement powers to allow police forces to deal with people who do not comply with sensible social distancing. The approach we are taking is to advise, explain and appeal to people to do the right thing, only using enforcement when it is absolutely necessary. We know most people in our county want to do the right thing, protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.
Enforcement will be a last resort. Where it is absolutely necessary, and reasoned conversations have failed, officers will direct people to return home. This may include providing instruction as to the route by which people are required to return. Officers are empowered to take people home, using reasonable force and powers of arrest where it is necessary to do so. I want to stress, we see this as a last resort and something we hope will not be necessary. Officers will continue to make sensible decisions, using their professional judgement and discretion in the exercise of all their powers; from persuasion through to enforcement.
What the new legislation means:
- People should only leave home for the reasons listed in Government guidance which can be found by visiting gov.uk/coronavirus;
- Police can instruct gatherings of three or more people to disperse and / or remove any person from that gathering to their home;
- Anyone outdoors without a valid reason may be committing an offence and can face a fine. For those continuing to disregard these requirements, they can face further fines or a summary conviction. If a fine is paid, there is no criminal offence committed.
- The initial fine is a fixed penalty notice of £60. This is lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days. Refusal to pay will lead to proceedings in the magistrates court.
Essex Police is very much part of the community. We are all in this together. Please help all those working tirelessly around the clock to keep you safe. Where you possibly can please stay at home and help to save lives.
Thank you for helping us to help keep you safe in these challenging times.
Please read the clear guidance available on how you can keep yourselves and others safe available by visiting gov.uk/coronavirus
We will continue to be visible in our local communities, maintaining safe distances when we engage in line with the Government advice on social distancing, however please ensure you’re only making essential journeys.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) new police regulations
Policing will adopt a four phase approach
Officers will initially encourage voluntary compliance.
Officers will stress the risks to public health and to the National Health Service. They will educate people about the risks and the wider social factors.
Officers will seek compliance and emphasise the benefits to the NHS by staying at home. They will explain how this can save lives and reduce risk for more vulnerable people in society.
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.
Officers will make sensible decisions, employ their judgement and continue to use other powers.
Enforcement will be a last resort.
What it means for the public
- People may only leave the place where they are living for the reasons listed in Government guidance.
- Police can instruct gatherings of three or more people to disperse or remove any person from that gathering to their home.
- Anyone outdoors without a valid reason may be committing an offence and will face a fine. For those continuing to disregard these requirements, they can face further fines or a summary conviction.
- If a fine is paid, there is no criminal offence committed. We do not seek to criminalise people but to ensure people follow this life saving guidance.
- Police can issue a fixed penalty notice of £60. This will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days. Police can then issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders. This will double on each further repeat offence. Refusal to pay will lead to proceedings in the Magistrates Court.
For more information on how to stay safe visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Essex Police's approach to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests relating to the policing operation of the Covid-19 pandemic
The national police operation to deal with all aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic is called Operation Talla. The National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) has produced a publication strategy which includes a plan for dealing with FOI requests.
Essex Police Has also created an FOI response plan.
FOI requests relating to the following types of information associated with the pandemic will be dealt with as and when the risk diminishes and no later than July 2021:
- Information created by or for the senior management group.
- Information created by or for the Local Resilience Forum.
- Information create by the Performance Analysis Unit.
- Information concerning incidents or crimes.
- Information concerning the enforcement by Essex Police of the regulations issued as a response to the pandemic.
In order to deliver the commitment outlined above, Essex Police will ensure all pandemic-related information created or held by departments is stored appropriately so it can be retrieved at a future date.