The chief constable of Dorset has urged local residents to abide by the new restrictions on people’s movements in the wake of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
James Vaughan said he was ‘confident’ that people would listen to and follow these ‘very simple rules’.
But he also warned: ‘Non-compliance of these reasonable and necessary restrictions will ultimately lead to positive police action and potentially prosecution under emergency powers provided to me by Parliament.’
The restrictions, announced by prime minister Boris Johnson on Monday night, mean that people should only go out for essential food shopping, to get medical care or to exercise.
‘Last night the Government announced emergency measures that represent some of the most far-reaching curbs on our personal freedom ever introduced in the UK.
‘While we are coming to terms with the impact these restrictions will have upon us, I would like to reiterate that these measures have been brought in to save lives and protect our loved ones.
‘The rules are very clear and guidance can be found on the gov.uk/coronavirus website.
‘I urge you all to follow this very simple advice to stay at home and help us to help the national effort.
‘British policing is founded on the consent of the public. I am therefore asking you all to do the right thing for everyone and stay at home.
‘We all need to pull together and I am confident that you will all listen and abide by these very simple rules. We owe it to our loved ones, our friends, colleagues and neighbours to keep people safe and well.
‘From tomorrow I will be chairing a Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) where we will be working very closely with our partner agencies to ensure we do all we can to help people through this unprecedented time.
‘Demand upon public services is being placed under growing strain and I would urge you all to think carefully before calling the police for non-urgent matters that can be dealt with through our online services.
‘Dorset Police remains open for business and we will continue to keep people safe and respond to serious crime but our key priority over the coming weeks and months will be to provide visible leadership for our communities through these extraordinary times.
‘However, I must make myself clear that whilst we will adopt a caring, compassionate and respectful approach to the new Government direction, I must warn people that non-compliance of these reasonable and necessary restrictions will ultimately lead to positive police action and potentially prosecution under emergency powers provided to me by Parliament.
‘In responding to this national emergency it must not be forgotten the sacrifice our officers and staff, alongside other emergency services, are taking so we can continue to protect you, prevent crime and uphold the law. I am immensely proud of the commitment and dedication they continue to show.
‘We are doing all we can to keep our officers and staff safe while they continue to serve the public.’