Police in Devon and Cornwall will be issuing fines to people who ignore the Government’s social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus crisis.
Legislation introduced last month means those who ignore the restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially, doubling to £120 for a second offence.
Devon and Cornwall Police assistant chief constable Glen Mayhew said his officers had issued ‘a handful’ of fines already and he has ‘reassured’ them that the option is available and has his support.
He also warned those travelling to Devon and Cornwall to second homes will be sent back to their primary address if stopped by police.
Assistant Chief Constable Mayhew said: “The vast majority of the public continue to be supportive of our actions and are adhering to restrictions, and I am keen that we continue to operate a policing style that is one of engagement and encouragement.
“Unfortunately there is a minority who continue to ignore government instruction which is in place ultimately to save lives.
“With this in mind, and whilst it really does remain a last resort, I have today reassured my officers that the option of enforcement is available to them, and is an action I am in support of.”
With the Easter weekend approaching, ACC Mayhew urged people not to undertake non-essential travel.
Government guidance says essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holiday.
ACC Mayhew said: “We are aware of frustrations our public feel when they see others not doing their part and undertaking anything other than essential travel.
“As we look to the bank holiday weekend I wish to be clear with our message which is stay at home and do not undertake travel that isn’t essential. My officers will continue to be visible in our towns and cities, and we will police the roads.
“We understand that people may have second homes in Devon or Cornwall but we urge you not to travel to them.
“In accordance with this guidance, we do not consider this to be a reasonable excuse for individuals to be away from their home. If we stop vehicles and they are travelling to a second home we will ask them to return to their primary residence.
“As a last resort police officers will use their discretion around whether the issuing of fines. This approach is not one we would take lightly and we are fortunate that the vast majority of people not only in our counties but across the country are staying home and protecting lives.
“I would like to thank those within Devon and Cornwall who continue to do their part in reducing the strain on our NHS.”