Lancashire Police issue statement on mask enforcement after council's 'Don't be a Dick' advert warns of £100 fines

Lancashire Police has issued a statement on how it will deal with those who refuse to wear a mask in shops and on public transport - and whether officers will be handing out fines.

By Matthew Calderbank
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 10:14 am
Updated Saturday, 18th December 2021, 10:24 am

The Post asked the force about its policy on enforcement after Lancashire County Council launched a controversial ad campaign warning that shoppers face £100 fines if they refuse to 'mask up'.

The provocative Council ad said: "Don't want to wear a mask on public transport and in shops? FINE (£100 fine that is).

"Meet Richard! Richard doesn't want to wear a mask, even though it's the law.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

"If officers encounter individuals not wearing a face covering on public transport or in shops, they will engage with them, explain the risks and encourage them to comply with the new rules," said Lancashire Police

"Richard thinks he knows best, but as well as being wrong, he's now £100 out of pocket.

"Don't be a Dick. Do your bit & mask up... it's cheaper."

Read More

Read More
'Don't be a Dick' warns Lancashire County Council as controversial new poster ta...

In response to those who branded the ad 'offensive', 'unprofessional' and 'divisive', Lancashire County Council said: "This is about calling out selfish people who just don't want to wear a mask even though it's the law.

increase officer visibility where possible in high risk and crowded areas, such as towns and shopping centres, and near transport hubs".

"Ignoring this simple measure puts people at risk, not least those who can't wear a mask for medical or other reasons.

"It's part of a wider campaign of positive messages encouraging Lancashire people to work together to combat Covid-19.

"Its aim is to provoke debate and encourage people to mask up, but it's certainly not our intention to offend anyone."

When asked how the £100 fines will be enforced, the Council said "enforcement is for the police".

"We will continue to enforce Coronavirus Regulations where it is necessary to do so," said Lancashire Police

So what do Lancashire Police say about face coverings and fines?

The force told the Post it will "increase officer visibility where possible in high risk and crowded areas, such as towns and shopping centres, and near transport hubs".

"If officers encounter individuals not wearing a face covering on public transport or in shops, they will engage with them, explain the risks and encourage them to comply with the new rules."

But will they be handing out fines?

Lancashire Police said it "will work closely with businesses and will continue to respond to incidents where individuals are violent or abusive towards staff or members of the public"

The force added: "We will work closely with businesses and will continue to respond to incidents where individuals are violent or abusive towards staff or members of the public.

"We will continue to enforce Coronavirus Regulations where it is necessary to do so. We will support transport and retail staff in ensuring people wear face coverings in line with the regulations."

So what does this mean, will they or won't they enforce it?

We asked Lancashire Police to further clarify their approach to enforcement and to confirm whether officers will only be responding to incidents where individuals are "violent or abusive towards staff or members of the public".

The force has declined to comment further.

It also declined to say how many fines it had issued since the rules were reintroduced.

Lancashire Police said it "will increase officer visibility where possible in high risk and crowded areas, such as towns and shopping centres, and near transport hubs"

Supermarkets refuse to enforce mask wearing, say "it is up to police to enforce face mask rules"

Supermarkets are continuing to take a light touch approach with Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Co-op and Iceland not challenging customers.

Sainsbury's said it has "greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets" to remind people to wear masks.

Morrisons said staff check face mask wearing at the front of the shops and hand out masks to customers that have forgotten them.

But Industry body The British Retail Consortium said it is up to police to enforce face mask rules, not retailers.

Co-op policy director Paul Gerrard told Radio 5 Live that while Co-op would put up signs to remind people to wear masks, staff would not refuse to serve customers who were not wearing one.

"We have seen throughout the pandemic that the enforcement of social distancing rules has been a flashpoint for enormous levels of violence and abuse against my colleagues, and we will not put our colleagues at risk," he said.