No fines in Northamptonshire compared to 123 in Lancashire on first weekend of Covid-19 lockdown

County police say 'thank you for staying at home'

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 2:51 pm

Northamptonshire Police issued no penalty notices to people flouting new laws on the country's first lockdown weekend.

That compares to a whopping 123 fines handed out in Lancashire.

Officers were given powers to issue penalty notices up to £960 or even make arrests if people go out unnecessarily or gather in groups of more than two following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's order to stay at home.

Northamptonshire's Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly insited: “Where our officers have come across people outside over the weekend period, they’ve been able to educate them on why it’s so important to follow the government’s guidance to stay home, save lives and protect our NHS.

"We engage, we listen, and we educate. We would always rather work with the public than against them."

Civil liberties groups criticised the sweeping powers as “authoritarian” and “chilling” after police in Warrington hauled six people off to court in a firm crackdown over the weekend.

Among them was a bored motorist who went out for a drive on his own; and multiple members of the same family out shopping for necessities together.

Northampton town centre is almost deserted on the first Saturday of the lockdown Photo: Leila Coker

Elsewhere, Avon & Somerset and South Yorkshire forces have been conducting random vehicle checks to ensure only essential journeys are being made while in Derbyshire police used drones to film people parking their cars while out for walks in the Peak District.

Northamptonshire's Chief Constable Nick Adderley yesterday warned he could follow other forces by using road blocks if drivers flouted the laws.

But ACC Blatchly added: “I would like to thank the public in Northamptonshire who have sent a clear message over the weekend that they want to save lives and work with us and the government by staying at home.

At the moment, our communities in Northamptonshire have been fantastic in their resilience to respond to such an unprecedented situation.

ACC Simon Blatchly

"Though there will always be people who will break the rules, and we will deal with them, it’s heart-warming to know that the majority support us.

“We have been given powers that in all honesty, we would not normally wish to have. However, extraordinary times often call for extraordinary measures and, make no mistake, we will use enforcement and issue fines if we have to.

“That being said, we want to ensure that we continue to hold respect at the heart of everything we do and that a dialogue between the police and our communities continues to exist."

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