Guide to new UK police powers as coronavirus lockdown continues

All police forces throughout the UK and Northern Ireland now have dispersal powers to help ensure everyone adheres to the social distancing guidance laid out by the Government and Public Health England.

These powers have been granted under the Health Regulations 2020 and came into effect today (Thursday, 26 March).

What does this mean for you?

• Police will be able to disperse groups of more than two people from any public place

• Groups of more than two people – who live in the same household – are permitted

• Anyone who refuses to disperse will be given a £60 fixed penalty notice, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days

• Second time offenders will be issued with a £120 fixed penalty notice – this will then double on each further repeat offence

• Anyone who does not pay a fixed penalty notice under the new regulations could be taken to court, where magistrates will be able to impose unlimited fines

• Anyone who refuses to comply will be acting unlawfully and may be arrested, but only if it is deemed proportionate and necessary

Officers will be out and about in the community to ensure that people are complying with the law.

A police spokesperson said: “These are powers we should not have to use, but will do so if necessary.

“We want people to be responsible, to realise that their actions can put people in danger, and the priority for Essex Police together with our other emergency service colleagues is to protect the vulnerable and literally save lives.”

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