Police launch new team to tackle Covid restriction breaches

Avon and Somerset Constabulary launch Covid team.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary launch Covid team. - Credit: Archant

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has received £680,000 in Government funding towards a new Covid team to tackle breaches of the current restrictions.

The team will respond to incidents called in by the public, and patrol areas highlighted by partner agencies and police intelligence which they believe present a threat to public health.

Those found to be flouting the rules, and thought to be placing their communities at greater risk of the virus will be fined.

The initiative gives officers the opportunity to work overtime, the money will also be used to buy electric bikes for patrolling officers as well as purchasing extra police cars in a distinctive livery.

Assistant Chief Constable, Nikki Watson, said: “We are fortunate the number of Covid-19 cases in the South West are not as high as some other parts of the UK, but they are rising and we cannot afford to be complacent.

“The national lockdown in March and April meant demand for non-Covid police matters dropped and it freed up resourcing for us to have more officers out on the streets, working with our communities to help defeat the virus.

“However, the situation is different six months on, as demand for police attendance has increased to pre-lockdown levels.

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“Officers have responded magnificently, but combining traditional policing priorities with additional Covid-19 work is a challenge for forces across the country.

“By creating this dedicated team, it will enable those officers to concentrate on dealing with reports coming in and proactively police areas where problems have previously occurred.”

Response and neighbourhood officers will continue to enforce Covid-19 rules where necessary, with the new team in place to cope with the expected seasonal demand.

Police and local councils will continue to coordinate enforcement action, depending who has the most appropriate power to deal with the breach.

As of October 16, police issued 413 fixed penalty notices – including 37 since the start of October – since lockdown was introduced in March.

ACC Watson added: “We want to continue working with our communities over what is likely to be a testing few months for everyone.”