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Force will 'police by consent' using new enforcement powers

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Thames Valley Police has said that it will take a four-phase approach to Government rules to stay indoors – but plans to ‘police by consent’ in most cases.

To help reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Government has given police officers enforcing power for new public health regulations.

Policing will adopt a four phase approach: engage, explain, encourage, enforce.

Officers will initially encourage individuals to go home, if they are outside for non-essential reasons, educating them on the risk this poses to public health.

If residents refuse to take police advice, officers will direct individuals to return to the place where they live. This may include providing reasonable instruction of the route by which the person is required to return.

As a last resort, officers may also remove that person to the place where they live, using reasonable force where essential.

The force has assured that it will ‘will continue to police by consent’ wherever possible and will operate on a case-by-case basis, hearing residents’ concerns.

Following national reports of citizens being pulled over while driving, Thames Valley Police added the following advice:

“Do not be alarmed if the police instruct you to pull over. Police interact with motorists every day and given the current circumstances, it is reasonable to expect officers to ask some motorists whether they have a valid reason for being outdoors.

“There may be a viable reason why someone can’t return home, or doesn’t have a home to return to.

“Officers will provide appropriate support to these individuals to ensure they get the help and safeguarding they need.”

The spokesman added a warning to anyone deliberately spitting or coughing at people during the pandemic.

He said: “People who deliberately spit and cough on emergency workers as well as members of the public will be dealt with robustly.

“This is an offence and it will be treated as assault. This is appalling behaviour and it will not be tolerated.”

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