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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Fines issued to group breaching ‘rule of six’

We issued fixed penalty notices to six men yesterday for breaching the coronavirus regulation banning gatherings of more than six people.

The men were part of a group of eight in Blake Gardens, Bridgwater who ignored a request from officers to disperse.

Officers initially saw the group at 6.45pm and spoke to them, explaining the rule of six and instructing them to disperse. At 8.25pm they saw them again in breach of the regulations.

Two of the men made off as officers returned to issue them with £200 fines and enquiries continue to be carried out to identify them so they too can be given a fixed penalty notice.

Neighbourhood Sergeant Joe Piscina said: “The vast majority continue to abide by the rules and follow the guidance in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

When we do have reason to speak with people, we generally find they listen to explanation of the regulations and disperse for which we are grateful.

“In this case however, the men involved were quite clearly deliberately flouting the regulation banning gatherings of more than six with no sense of guilt about the risks their actions had.

“We will continue with our approach to engage, explain and encourage but when people consciously make decisions which put lives at risk enforcement action will be taken.

“CCTV footage from the area will now be reviewed as part of enquiries to identify the other two men in the group and they can expect to be given the same punishment as their friends.”

Sgt Piscina added: “If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to us and we will consider the most appropriate response, targeting the most problematic behaviour. Reports should be made through online reporting wherever possible, and 999 should only be used in an emergency.”