Met police’s crackdown on London lockdown flouters who meet in groups and refuse to wear mask – Evening Standard
The public has been told to stay at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse” to travel or need to exercise, while gatherings of groups of friends have been banned.
Laws are already in force demanding that masks are worn when inside public buildings, unless you have a medical exemption.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who leads the Met’s response to the Covid pandemic, said he believes the vast majority of people know what the restrictions are, warning of tougher enforcement from today.
“After ten months of this pandemic the number of people who are genuinely not aware of the restrictions and the reasons they are in place is vanishingly small”, he said.
“We know the overwhelming majority of Londoners will do the right thing by staying at home, wearing masks and not gathering, but a small minority continue to ignore rules put in place to protect the NHS and save lives.
“Our first duty as police officers is to preserve life. The critical situation our NHS colleagues are facing and the way the new virus variant moves through communities, means we can no longer spend our time explaining or encouraging people to follow rules where they are wilfully and dangerously breaching.”
Police forces handed out thousands of on-the-spot fines during the first lockdown, but officers were also instructed to try to explain the rules to those suspected of breaking them in a bid to convince them to comply – with fines used as a last resort.
Scotland Yard said officers will be “more inquisitive” when people are spotted travelling and in public, and have been “issued refreshed instructions…to issue fines more quickly to anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches”.
“In practice this will mean that all those attending parties, unlicensed music events or large illegal gatherings, can expect to be fined – not just the organisers of such events. Similarly, those not wearing masks where they should be and without good reason can expect to be fined – not reasoned with.”
DAC Twist said a digital fines system has recently been introduced to streamline the process of issuing penalties, leading to more people being reported for fines in the last month than during the rest of the pandemic combined.
“This is also an indicator of a worsening position in the epidemic, and officers stepping in more quickly to try to keep communities safe”, he said.
“I hope it is not necessary for this particular trend to carry on but if people continue to break the rules, putting themselves, their families and their communities at greater risk, our officers are ready to act robustly.
“This is why Londoners must take action now to stop this virus spreading further across our city. Action now by everyone will help reduce the time our Capital must live with these restrictions and crucially, will prevent more people from dying needlessly because of this virus. It’s up to us all to do the right thing.”
The new national lockdown restrictions were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening, with the law published last night and brought into effect this morning.