Priti Patel has confirmed that police have issued almost 45,000 fixed penalty notices to lockdown rule breakers.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, the home secretary said: “If you do not play your part, our selfless police officers, who are out there risking their own lives… they will enforce the regulations. And I will back them to do so.”
Earlier today, crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse warned police would be ‘quicker’ to hand out fines.
Police have been using a ‘four Es’ strategy during the pandemic, by engaging, explaining, encouraging and then, as a last step, enforcing lockdown measures – but Malthouse indicated that officers might move to the final ‘E’ more hastily.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “If people play by the rules and they recognise the police are doing a difficult job in very challenging circumstances, and cooperate, then hopefully the four ‘Es’; encourage, all that kind of stuff, before we get to enforcement, will have an effect.
“But I think you will find that the police are quicker to move to enforcement. That’s certainly what they have indicated is their intention. Because we really, really have to recognise how severe the problem is and the fact we are in our worst position for some time.”
It comes after Boris Johnson spoke to senior ministers earlier this week about whether the current rules are having an impact – and he has warned that tougher measures may be needed.
It seems the government is honing in on one exemption in particular, which allows people to meet with one other person from outside their household. This is meant to be for exercise in a public space.