Officers will not arrest people leaving the country, police chief says

Police will not stop or arrest people leaving the country in breach of the Government’s holiday ban, a senior officer has confirmed.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:46 pm

Under the new coronavirus regulations coming into force on Monday, people leaving England without a valid reason could face a £5,000 fine.

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt said officers would hand out the penalties to anyone found flouting the rules to go on holiday.

However, he said barring anyone from travelling is a matter for UK Border Force, adding: “We are not simply going to arrest people because they are trying to leave the country.”

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Under the new coronavirus regulations coming into force on Monday, people leaving England without a valid reason could face a £5,000 fine

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Mr Hewitt was speaking to reporters after the release of NPCC data showing 508 fines had been issued by forces in England and three in Wales to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the Government quarantine list up to March 14.

He said no fines had been handed out by police for breaching regulations around hotel quarantine for those entering from red countries, which came into force on February 15, explaining enforcement was primarily a matter for Border Force and private security contractors.

Mr Hewitt said police have increased the number of officers in ports and airports, and are continuing to carry out checks of people who should be self-isolating.

“Police will not automatically stop travellers, though officers will continue to question people about the reasons for their travel in the airport terminals or the car park or the other points of entry and exit,” he said.

“With the new legislation in relation to travel coming into force on Monday, if officers do discover anyone who is breaching the rules, then we will issue a fine where necessary.

“Whether people become barred from travelling is not a police issue, though, that is for UK Border Force.”