Coronavirus (Covid-19): We're asking you please to only call 999 if it is an emergency and 101 if it is urgent. If you can, use our online services. If you’re looking for information about the government instruction to stay at home and how that may affect you, you'll find guidance on Gov.uk. We’ll be updating information on our services over the coming days, please check online for those updates.
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.
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.
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.