Social distancing is a matter of ‘personal responsibility’ it was never police role to enforce it

Police across Sussex will focus on their core role of preventing and detecting crime and protecting the most vulnerable, as people begin enjoy new freedom to spend more time outside.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Miller said: “The policing role in Sussex has never changed.

“We are here to prevent, investigate and detect crime and to keep people safe, and this is demonstrated by the on-going efforts of police officers and staff to proactively tackle crime, take criminals off the streets and provide support to victims that need our help.

“The policing role has never been to enforce social distancing – that is a matter of personal responsibility, and we have been encouraged by the vast majority of people adhering to this.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Miller.

“In this new phase, the police will support partner agencies to deter and deal with clear breaches of the new rules, such as people gathering in groups, but very much with our existing approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging first and using enforcement as a last resort.

“We are all in this together, we want to prevent a second spike in the infection, and so, above all, we urge people to follow the new guidance for their own benefit and to prevent harm to others.”

Changes were made by the Government earlier this week to moderate stringent lockdown rules. Sussex Police say this means people can now spend, “as much time outside as they wish for activities and can travel for activity as long as they do not stay overnight.”

Some rules remain in place to prevent large gatherings or people travelling for holidays or to stay in second homes.

Figures released on Friday showed that 655 fines were issued to people in Sussex who breached the lockdown rules between March 27th and May 11th.

Of these, 297 fines were issued in the past two weeks – the vast majority of which were over the hot early May bank holiday weekend, when Sussex saw an influx of visitors from outside the county which was, at that time, against government regulations.

Senior officers in the force say that Police officers and PCSOs will continue to patrol in local communities and ‘hot spot areas’ on the coast and at local beauty spots, as well as identifying and enforcing criminal activity on the roads network.

Sussex Police says it has also seen an increase in reports of criminal activity from the public and is encouraging people to report suspicious or unusual behaviour.

A spokesman said: “While we are not seeing a rise in domestic abuse reports to us, we are receiving more calls to domestic incidents such as arguments.

“We continue to work with support services to ensure that we are able to respond and support people if they call and need help. Those people subject to violence or coercion behind closed doors, children vulnerable to online abuse and people vulnerable to exploitation should be in no doubt – we continue to be there for you.”

Click here to Contact Sussex Police   

For information on how to report a breach of the regulations, click here.  

For the latest government guidance on coronavirus, click here.  

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