Devon and Cornwall Police has thanked those who heeded the message to stay at home over the Easter bank holiday.

The force undertook a huge operation over the Easter weekend to ensure the measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were being followed.

An update from the police said teams carried out 4,000 visits to beauty spots and businesses across the force area and spoke to some 5,500 people across four days.

It said 960 people were given verbal warnings for failing to follow guidance, and ‘a minimum’ of 169 people were issued with fines – with around a quarter of those living outside of Devon and Cornwall.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said: “We shared the concern of our communities that a small number of people continued to breach the restrictions and were putting lives at risk. Our approach was to speak with people and I am really pleased that these figures show a proportionate response.

“We all wanted to enjoy the weather this weekend, but thankfully our beauty spots continue to remain noticeably quieter which shows that the vast majority of the public are taking government guidance seriously, and are playing their part in helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19, protect the NHS safe and save lives.

“We have seen a slight increase in traffic on the roads, but our road-side checks are establishing that the majority of these who are on our roads are undertaking essential travel.

“I understand the appeal for people to go out, but we need to keep to the restrictions. The signs are that they are having an impact so we all need to do our part to reduce the strain on our NHS as this will ultimately save lives. Policing with the support of our communities is our priority and we will continue to use discretion and only use enforcement as appropriate.”

“Finally I would like to thank the public for your continued support and understanding during this challenging time.”

North Devon Superintendent Toby Davies said thanks to those who stayed at home over the Easter period and said the area was ‘eerily quiet’ for a bank holiday weekend.

He tweeted: “Police and council officers continue to patrol our area. Pleased to report compliance remains remarkably high.

“Far fewer people out and about and a really positive response from the majority spoken to on essential trips.”