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More police to be deployed to streets to fine Covid flouters as Priti Patel blasts ‘minority putting nation at risk’

More police to be deployed to streets to fine Covid flouters as Priti Patel blasts ‘minority putting nation at risk’

MORE police will be deployed onto the streets to fine Covid flouters in the coming days as Priti Patel blasted a “minority putting the nation at risk”.

The Home Secretary issued a stark warning for everyone to play their part and behave responsibly to help push cases down – or ministers may impose even stricter lockdown rules.

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Priti Patel rapped the minority not sticking by the rules[/caption]

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Police will step up enforcement of fines[/caption]

Brits were told to all act as if they had Covid and follow the rules to protect the NHS and save lives – as deaths reached 1,243 on the second deadliest day ever.

Police chiefs revealed examples of “dangerous, selfish and totally irresponsible” breaches of the rules – including a boat party where people paid £30 to attend, a mini-bus of people from Cheltenham who went for a walk in Wales, and a £10,000 fine for a party that organisers called a “business event”.

The Home Secretary appeared tonight alongside Martin Hewitt, Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, as well as Dr Vin Diwakar, Regional Medical Director for London.

Mr Hewitt said: “At this critical time, we will have more dedicated police officers out on dedicated patrols to take action against the small few who are letting us all down.”

He blasted a “stubborn minority” of people who were refusing to abide by the rules and stressed Britain was at the “most dangerous stage” of the pandemic now.

He warned: “With the virus spreading so rapidly through contact with others, we should all be asking ourselves if our reason to leave home is truly essential.”

Ms Patel thanked everyone who had been following the lockdown laws and had cancelled plans with family and loved ones – but warned that ministers are discussing the rules “endlessly”.

The Home Secretary stressed: “A minority of people are putting the health of the nation at risk by not following the rules.

“If you do not play your part, our selfless police officers… will enforce the regulations, and I will back them to do so”.

“These issues are live within Government – we are constantly looking at where we are,” she added.

She also hinted that police could be next in line for the vaccination after the first phase one has been rolled out – alongside teachers.

And she stressed that the lockdown rules were strict and clear enough – despite calls for them to be more specific after the PM went on a seven mile bike ride.

Ms Patel said: “The rules are tough enough… We urge everyone to continue to follow the rules.”

Hitting back at claims that the rules on what is local should be laid out, she added: “If you try to make a definition for every possible circumstance that would be really challenging.

“I don’t think we’re in a position where we want to set a particular distance, if a police officer stopped somebody how would you prove that a person is within or outside that distance?”

Councils have been reminded of their role today in helping to enforce the rules – and issue fines more quickly to people who are breaking them.

Nearly 45,000 fines have been issued across the UK, she revealed.

It came as:

  • For the first time since December the weekly cases fell by 2,000 today – but deaths were still at near-record highs
  • Policing minister Kit Malthouse admitted it was legal to get a take-away coffee as part of your exercise
  • Cressida Dick backed Boris Johnson for taking a bike ride seven miles from home – but called on Government to define what “local” was
  • Ministers called for all supermarkets to enforce mask rules – as Sainsbury’s said it would hire security guards to do so

Dr Vin Diwakar warned tonight the NHS was facing the biggest public health crisis “since World War II”.

This week ministers are stepping up enforcement of the rules, with Met Chief Cressida Dick saying this morning she said police will be quicker to fine people for breaking lockdown laws.

She revealed the Met had dished out 300 fines in the last 24 hours alone as the enforcement message was ramped up.

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NINTCHDBPICT000630169868[/caption]

And people were still found to be holding illegal parties, playing poker in basements and hosting other gatherings during the strict lockdown.

Officers stop people on the street and ask them where they are going and why they have left their home.

Dame Cressida also blasted Covid lockdown rule breakers who hold parties, meet in basements to gamble or attend unlicensed raves.

Britain’s top cop slammed a “small minority” who “flagrantly ignore the rules”.

It comes after Derbyshire Police apologised and scrapped £200 fines handed to two women who had driven five miles to go for a walk.

It came as:

  • Policing minister Kit Malthouse admitted it was legal to get a take-away coffee as part of your exercise
  • Cressida Dick backed Boris Johnson for taking a bike ride seven miles from home – but called on Government to define what “local” was
  • Ministers called for all supermarkets to enforce mask rules – as Sainsbury’s said it would hire security guards to do so
Dame Cressida Dick has said the police will move quickly to fine lockdown breakers
Dame Cressida Dick has said the police will move quickly to fine lockdown breakers

Today Boris Johnson will hold a Cabinet meeting of his top team this morning as he considers whether to implement tougher lockdown rules to try and curb Covid case numbers.

The PM will gather his ministers for a discussion of the latest figures and impact of the national lockdown, which was announced just last Monday.

Shops, schools and sports facilities were shut across England, with people told to stay at home once again – at least until the middle of February.

But case numbers have continued to rise – partly because of people being allowed to mix between households over Christmas, and over the new super-spreading Covid strain.

Hospitals are under significant pressure, and could be overwhelmed within a fortnight, NHS bosses have said.

Government are considering what else might be needed to stop the spread of the virus – though no changes are expected to be imminent.

Ministers want to wait to see the impact of the latest moves first before making any further decisions.

But No10 has said all strategies and restrictions remain under constant review.

Brits were last night cautioned against going for takeaway coffees — amid warnings two pals meeting up will be outlawed if people continue to “flex” the rules.

Police leaders have demanded for clarification on the “woolly” rules on staying local.

Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation Brian Booth said: “The guidance is that you should be local in your own community near where you live but people are far exceeding that.

“Officers have no power in law to deal with it, so it is a bit of a nonsense really.

“The guidance is people’s moral judgement, should they be doing it, but with regard to policing it – it’s impossible.”

 

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