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Dorset Police have praised the county’s ‘responsible and practical communities’ for their response to the new restrictions to tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

But Chief Constable James Vaughan warned that anyone deliberately flouting the restrictions on staying at home and social gatherings would feel the ‘full force of the law’.

Commenting on the new emergency powers that Dorset Police and other forces have been given to deal with the crisis, Mr Vaughan said: ‘I have confidence that people understand the importance of these restrictions. We have responsible and practical communities who I am sure will comply for the good of all.

‘I have been appealing all week for the public to cooperate and need to emphasise that individuals who deliberately flout this will face the full force of the law. We are determined to keep people safe and reduce the loss of life from this dangerous virus.’

The full statement from Dorset Police and details of the restrictions are below:

New coronavirus sanctions and police powers – advice to our communities

Parliament has passed emergency powers for the police to enforce restrictions on public movement to reduce the spread of COVID-19, help the NHS and save lives.

Under these rules, you should not leave your home unless strictly necessary for one of the following purposes:

• Shopping for basic household 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
• Travelling to and from work, but only where you cannot work from home

Gatherings of more than two people are banned, unless you are with members of your household or in very limited circumstances.

If members of the public do not comply the police may:

• Instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse
• Ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
• Issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
• Issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines. If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

james vaughan
Dorset chief constable James Vaughan

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: ‘I am reassured and satisfied that we have adequate powers to deal with the threat of this emergency situation and can enforce the new rules.

‘We have shifted resources and created capacity across our Force to ensure we have enough officers to enforce these new powers. Our officers and staff are proactively patrolling our communities, stopping people and vehicles to ensure people are not flouting these restrictions. So far I am reassured with the response from our public in Dorset, who in the main are taking sensible steps and are adhering to the advice.

‘For some areas of the country, this weekend marks the start of the Easter holidays. Please stay at home. Driving to exercise, visit public locations or beauty spots is not within the spirit of the government direction and it places additional demand on other sectors.

‘I have confidence that people understand the importance of these restrictions. We have responsible and practical communities who I am sure will comply for the good of all.

‘I have been appealing all week for the public to cooperate and need to emphasise that individuals who deliberately flout this will face the full force of the law. We are determined to keep people safe and reduce the loss of life from this dangerous virus.

‘We must all do our part to pull together and protect our loved ones, our friends, colleagues and neighbours. These powers are in place to save lives. Please stay at home.’

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