'We will fine you': Lancashire Police warning to flagrant flouters of Covid rules

Lancashire Police have warned those who blatantly or repeatedly breach Covid restrictions – including new national rules coming into force on Monday (14th September) limiting most indoor and outdoor gatherings to six people – that they will face the full fines that the force has the power to issue.
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Patrols dedicated to enforcing laws designed to limit the spread of coronavirus will be on the streets of the county and responding to reports from day one of the stricter measures.

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What are the new rules on social gatherings?

Deputy chief constable Terry Woods told a media briefing that the "very small percentage of people that deliberately go out of their way" to flout the regulations would not be warned - but fined.

Deputy Chief Constable Terry WoodsDeputy Chief Constable Terry Woods
Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods
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He cited examples in recent days where breaches of existing rules had attracted the maximum financial penalties - £10,000 for an illegal rave in Darwen and £1,000 for a Chorley couple who failed to self-isolate after returning from a foreign destination which was not on the country's travel corridor list.

DCC Woods said that the tough approach would continue - with "checks" on those required to quarantine after returning from abroad. He added that a similar stance would be taken in enforcing the new "rule of six", which can attract a fixed penalty notice of £100.

"We're a neighbourhood policing force and that's the style we will always keep. However, for the 0.1 percent of people who are habitually disobeying the regulations, or those who have gone out of their way to disobey [them], there will be a shift in policing stance - we will move straight to enforcement.

"For the rest of the population, we will engage, encourage and educate - but for the 0.1 percent who are causing issues for the rest, we will be enforcing through fines."

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DCC Woods - who has led the policing response to the pandemic and spent several months as chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum - said he and his officers were "really grateful" to the vast majority of Lancashire residents who had attempted to stick to the rules since the outbreak began.

"I firmly believe that those people - which is the bulk - are behind us. They want us to take action against those who are deliberately making things worse for the rest - and that's what they can expect."

The Lancashire force is also preparing how to deal with the impact of students returning to universities, should it prove necessary - and the temptation to party as though they had not embarked on adult life during a pandemic.

DCC Woods said he believed that most would be "very responsible", but added: "The reality is that these are young people [who] are away from home - most for the first time.

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"There will definitely be an element that do party and exceed the numbers and we'll take that on a case-by-case basis. We will deal with each incident with common sense and fairness.

"Do I think that some of the parties will be that excessive that fixed penalty notices are issues? I hope not, but the reality is I'm expecting a few.

"But I do think the vast bulk of young people will take on board what we're saying and those who do exceed [the limit] will not have done it particularly deliberately and we'll take a common sense approach."