People who continue to break rules during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown could be fined up to £120.
The initial fine would be £60, halved if paid within 14 days, but would double for repeat offenders.
New powers have been signed this afternoon spelling out what police in Wales’ four forces can do to enforce lockdown rules. There are are equivalents for other parts of the UK.
Under the rules, people who continue to flout coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and could be arrested by police.
Those who ignore tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence.
The fines can only be issued to someone aged 18 or over.
To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, from today, if members of the public do not comply the police may:
- instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse
- ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
- issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
- issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders
Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them. However, in the first instance the police will always apply their common sense and discretion.
Police in Wales have already been carrying out patrols to enforce new rules:
The new rules have come into force as of 4pm on March 26. They were signed by First Minister Mark Drakeford and all restrictions and requirements imposed by the regulations must be reviewed every 21 days, with the first review being carried out by April 15.
The regulations also cover the rest of the announcements made by the Government, including business closures, leaving the house, and exercise rules.
Enforcement of the new rules can be given by a police officer, PCSO or person chosen by Welsh Government, council, or in certain circumstances, a National Park authority in Wales, or Natural Resources Wales.
In a thread online, Cardiff University’s Dr Fredrick Cram of the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice said giving police new powers to disperse crowds due to coronavirus throws up many questions about how they will be used.
“If they over-target particular groups of people – especially those we might think of as vulnerable, or if they take a heavy-handed approach and fine lots of people, then legitimacy might be eroded.
“In this case, less people might be willing to obey the laws and ultimately, it could lead to disorder.
“A further point is simply resources. The police are overstretched at the best of times. It’s going to be a huge challenge for them to take on these extra duties.
“It’s unlikely the police will turn their main attention to actively seeking out people that are flouting the stay at home directive.
“I suspect most commanders will want to police by consent and will hope that people follow the moral consensus that the right thing to do is simply to stay at home (within the guidelines).”