The Chief Constable of Kent Police has repeated the request for the public to stay at home over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend or face enforcement action if necessary.
Chief Constable Alan Pughsley says that while the vast majority of people in Kent have been adhering to the restrictions introduced by the Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a minority have chosen to flout the rules and potentially put others at risk.
Kent Police officers will continue to patrol across the county this weekend, and will use enforcement action against those who refuse to comply. As of Thursday,April 9, a total of nine people have been issued with fines under the Coronavirus Act. One of the fines was issued to a woman in Ramsgate.
The act gives police the ability to fine or arrest people who fail to comply with the Government’s directions to stay at home, an enforcement tactic which will only be used as a last resort in Kent.
Officers on the isle have, however, had to disperse groups and move people on from parks and beaches.
Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: “It was pleasing to hear that despite the warm weather last weekend, most people listened when we asked them to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. It comes as no surprise to me that the people of Kent would continue to do what is right for the good of the nation, and we must all continue to do as we have been instructed by the Government this Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
— Kent Police Thanet (@kentpolicethan) April 9, 2020
“It is also encouraging to note that my officers have only had to issue nine fines to date, as this shows that my officers are engaging, explaining and encouraging people in the correct way and are being listened to when they ask people to go home. Those who have received fines for refusing to comply need to take a look at themselves in the mirror and consider the potential health implications their actions could have on others. It is unacceptable at a time when thousands of people in the UK have already lost their lives.”
There has been some frustration over reports being made of constant gatherings that are not dispersed.
Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents Association says nine reports have been made over a lack of social distancing on the Cliftonville road.
In a letter to police and councillors ARTRA states: “The public health time bomb resulting from the ongoing daily behaviour on Athelstan Road, cannot be overstated.”
Changes in crime reports
Between March 24-31, Kent Police experienced a 46.5% reduction in reported crime, with 2,171 fewer offences being reported than in the same period last year.
— Kent Specials (UK) #StayHomeSaveLives (@KentSpecials) April 3, 2020
Mr Pughsley was keen to stress that officers will not be complacent and are continuing to support those most in need, including victims of domestic abuse.
He said: ‘Since the Covid-19 restrictions came into force we have experienced a 6% increase in reports of domestic abuse, which is of great concern to us. We want victims to know that we are still here to help and are working closely with our partners to ensure they can still access the support they may require. We remain committed to protecting vulnerable people and any victim of crime is encouraged to contact us through our website, by calling 101 or dialling 999 in an emergency.
“Another crime type we are keeping a close eye on is online child abuse and grooming. I would therefore like to remind parents of the potential dangers that exist on social media, and encourage them to talk to their children and ensure you know who they are talking to.
“There are unfortunately some criminals who will use the current situation we all find ourselves in to their advantage, but the people of Kent can rest assured that my officers will continue to identify such offenders and ensure they are brought to justice.”
Support and information for victims of domestic abuse can be accessed at this link – https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/
Last month Kent Police launched its Returners Scheme to appeal for former Kent Police officers, staff and volunteers to consider coming back to the force to help ensure the public continues to receive the best possible policing service.
Those interested are encouraged to visit www.kent.police.uk/canyouhelp for details on how to apply.
Advice for parents, guardians and professionals about online child abuse can be found here – https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/caa/child-abuse/advice-for-parents-and-guardians/