A PASSIONATE plea for younger people to stay at home has been made by West Mercia Chief Constable Anthony Bangham after the force revealed 30 fines have so far been issued to those failing to obey the Government’s requests.
Mr Bangham spoke out after figures from all police forces were revealed for the initial three-week Coronavirus lockdown which was imposed on March 23 and elapsed on Monday (April 13). The Government met yesterday (Thursday) to discuss plans for a further three-week extension to the measures.
West Mercia’s tally of 30 fines is among the lower third of penalties issued by forces in a league table topped by Lancashire Police who issued 380 fines in just three weeks.
Nationally 3,203 fixed penalty notices have been handed out to those failing to respect the measures imposed such as keeping two metres apart, making unessential journeys and congregating in large groups.
The vast majority of the fines in the force area – around eight in 10 – were given to young men, with two-thirds being aged between 18 and 34-years-old.
“I therefore appeal directly to our younger communities: please stay at home and do not put either yourself or us in a position where we are having to take enforcement action against you,” Chief Con Bangham said.
“The ‘stay at home’ measures are there to limit the spread of the virus and to keep us all safe, so please play your part. You are not immune and neither are those you come into contact with.
“My officers continue to be out in their communities, dealing with crime and keeping people safe, and at the same time they are now dealing effectively with the new responsibilities and risks presented by the virus.
“The statistics we have been able to share on use of fines show we are using these new powers proportionately,” he added.
The West Mercia chief said he believed the low number of fines demonstrated the forces’ ‘supportive’ approach of ‘engaging, explaining and encouraging’ and only using enforcement action as last resort was working.
“The vast majority of people are abiding by the guidance and the rules, and we appreciate their support and cooperation,” he said.
“However, we have had a small minority of people who, despite our best efforts, have refused to follow the instructions and officers have needed to use their enforcement powers. Where there is a clear breach of the regulations and no reasonable excuse, then we will take action.
“Let us continue to work together as effectively as we have been so far to minimise the impact on us all.”