Vast majority of people in Lancaster and Morecambe following coronavirus social distancing rules, police say

Lancaster Area Police said there were just a few minor cases of people ignoring the guidance, and that all homeless people in the district have now been housed.

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 1:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 1:39 pm

Sgt Lindsay Brown, Partnerships Officer for Lancaster and Morecambe, said that local police remain out and about reassuring the public.

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner said he wanted to thank everyone who is heeding the message to stay home, and understood it was "tough for us all".

Sgt Brown said: "The vast majority of the public in Lancaster and Morecambe are adhering to the social distancing guidance and therefore, saving lives.

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Police stock pic.

"We are focusing our efforts on engaging with the public across the district, explaining what the social distancing measures are and why we should all observe them, and encouraging people to follow the guidance and stay at home.

"In the few minor cases where people ignore the guidance we do now have new powers to enforce if required where there is no other alternative."

Police have wide-ranging powers to help fight coronavirus, by enforcing social distancing measures designed to keep people apart.

The three key tools they have been given are the power to detain someone to be tested if they are believed to be infectious, the power to close a wide range of non-essential businesses

Police staff helping out at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre.

and the power to restrict your right to move around and be part of a gathering.

A police officer can order a non-essential business to close while coronavirus regulations are in place.

Police can also enforce the two key social distancing rules, which ban leaving the place where you live "without reasonable excuse" and being in a public gathering of more than two people.

If someone refuses to follow the regulations - for instance a request to go home - officers can give them an on-the-spot fine of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

The beaches in Morecambe remain very quiet

If they keep breaking the law, more fines can be given - up to a maximum of £960.

Sgt Brown said the police are focusing on working with partners in the NHS, Lancaster City Council and voluntary organisations to identify vulnerable people and ensure they get the help they need.

He said: "Some staff have been deployed at the local emergency food bank assisting Morecambe Bay Foodbank and Lancaster City Council employees in distributing food parcels to the vulnerable.

"We’ve been doing joint patrols with Lancaster City Council Homelessness team over the last week, engaging with those with complex needs and have managed together to get all homeless people in the district into accommodation.

"Clearly there have been challenges for us in working in new ways but we have adapted how we do things, making the best use of technology and remain fully capable of delivering front line services moving forward."

Clive Grunshaw added: "It's tough for us all but we need to pull together and support each other.

"Adhering to this simple advice will save lives, protect the NHS and keep people in Lancashire safe.

"Police in Lancashire are working to encourage and support our communities to comply with government restrictions.

"Officers have no desire to use the formal powers but sadly there remains a small minority of people who think the rules do not apply to them and therefore it is only right that police are able to enforce against those who disregard these measures and put people at risk.

"I want to reassure people that officers and staff continue to work around the clock to keep people safe and there for those that need them most, responding to emergencies, serious crime and protecting vulnerable people. You can help police to prioritise and keep people safe by not calling unless it’s an emergency or you need a specific police response."