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Coronavirus Kent: Chief constable Alan Pughsley reminds public to stick to lockdown rules during Easter weekend as fines handed out

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A police chief has urged people to continue following lockdown measures over the long Easter weekend, as six fines were handed out over the past week to people who continued to flout the rules.

Chief constable Alan Pughsley said: "I'm very pleased with the figure in one way, it shows most of the public are complying with my officer's directions.

Watch the chief constable react to people ignoring lockdown rules

"But I'm disappointed that we had to impose any fines - somebody was sunbathing and was told not to but he carried on sunbathing, which I think is appalling.

"Others have been stopped in cars with friends who they don't live with, it was the second and third time we had reported them."

The police chief said some had even been caught fly tipping and throwing rubbish into the road.

Despite those few people ignoring the rules, Mr Pughsley said most people are following them.

Chief constable Pughsley updating the county on the week's police measures
Chief constable Pughsley updating the county on the week's police measures

He said: "The vast majority have responded brilliantly to the guidelines.

"Those who haven't have been met by my officers in the policing spirit that we promised we would do.

"We've engaged, we've explained and we've encouraged the error of their ways and the vast majority have complied.

"The small majority we have had to move to enforcement activity.

"If we have to we will move to enforcement again."

The briefings are to keep the public informed on what police are doing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The briefings are to keep the public informed on what police are doing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Kent police launched a site where people can report suspected breaches of the Covid-19 social distancing measures.

While Mr Pughsley said the tool had been helpful, he urged any instances of large gatherings to be reported immediately by phone.

He said: "If you see major incidents - groups of 12, 20, 30 people, please phone us, and do it in a timely manner.

"Some incidents are being phoned into us an hour late, and then when we get there they aren't there anymore."

Crime across the county has reportedly dropped by 46.5% as the coronavirus lockdown keeps people off the streets and in their homes.

Police officers on patrol in Folkestone after social distancing restrictions were imposed
Police officers on patrol in Folkestone after social distancing restrictions were imposed

Speaking about the significant drop, deputy chief constable of Kent Tony Blaker said: "Our officers are continuing to patrol the county and remind people of their responsibilities to follow the Government’s guidance to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and support the NHS."

Police issued 10 warnings to motorbike riders in Darenth for ignoring social distancing rules.

Dartford Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) attended Ladywood Road on Sunday, where they issued Section 59 warning letters to people seen riding motorcycles and those who were gathered watching.

The letter warns the owners that should they attend the location again, an order will be sought under the Police Reform Act which enables officers to seize vehicles causing antisocial behaviour within the next year. Folkestone council also issued more than 100 warning letters to rule breakers who visited the coast over the weekend.

Mr Pughsley has told police and crime commissioner, Matthew Scott, that officers will only use "enforcement" of coronavirus emergency powers as a last resort.

Police are making sure people adhere to social distancing measures
Police are making sure people adhere to social distancing measures

This was the second of the organised police briefings, the first of which took place last week.

In last week's conference, the chief constable announced the crackdown on people spitting at emergency workers.

Mr Pughsley said: "I'm incredibly disappointed, disgusted and appalled that people in society behave like that to any emergency worker.

"The new legislation allows up to two years in prison for that.

"I hope if people do it they get the full weight of the law and go to jail for up to two years."

It comes as a thief who spat at a police officer and laughed as he told him "I have coronavirus" was jailed.

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