Police begin spot checks on motorists and pedestrians to tackle coronavirus rule breakers

Police have launched spot checks on motorists and pedestrians to tackle a minority of people who are ignoring stark government warnings to avoid non-essential journeys.

North Yorkshire Police will launch the unprecedented action on key routes and town and city centres, questioning people about their reasons for not being at home, as senior officers issued statements in an attempt to press home the importance of social distancing and isolation.

The move comes ahead of emergency legislation that is expected to give police enforcement powers to issue fines over is expected to become law on Thursday.

Despite hundreds of calls on social media in the region for the forces to fines and send groups of teenagers home, the forces said they were only able to “simply educate and advise”.

North Yorkshire Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “We sincerely hope that we will not have to resort to enforcement measures, but if we have to, we will. I know the vast majority of people will follow the restrictions without question, as they have done so already and we will work with local communities to help reinforce the message should it be necessary.”

The force said less traffic on the road was encouraging some motorists to drive unsafely. It urged motorists not to tie up valuable police or NHS resources by committing “dangerous but preventable” offences such as speeding, handheld mobile phone use, drink or drug-driving and not wearing a seatbelt.

However, the force’s statement that it would continue to enforce speeds through its fleet of mobile safety camera vans has drawn complaints.

Commenting on the force’s Facebook page Ian Taylor said: “Surely speed/safety camera van operators are not ‘essential workers’ and need to be reassigned to more appropriate jobs, there is hardly any traffic on the roads, the roads are the safest they’ve been in years at this current time, come on North Yorkshire Police get your priorities right.”

Meanwhile, chief inspector Darren Walton, from Durham Constabulary, said the vast majority of people in County Durham and Darlington were adhering to the emergency measures and were making “real sacrifices to help fight the virus”.

He said officers had been “speaking with our communities to help advise people on what the latest Government instructions mean for them”.

He said: “The measures are there for a very simple reason – to protect the most vulnerable in our society and to help save lives. For those who find the instructions unclear, we are advising and educating them on what is expected of them.”

Darlington resident Val Pace said her husband had been wearing his Tesco uniform and identity card when he was stopped in Thompson Street on his way to work. She said the police officer had thanked him for his polite attitude and for working hard.

1 Comment

  1. People still arriving from the south to second homes in Thwaite, absolute disgrace putting local communities obeying the rules at risk.

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