From Essex Police
COVID-19 infection rates have been falling across the county and we’d like to thank people across Essex for following the government guidelines.
However, the virus is still prevalent in our community so it’s essential that you continue to stick to the rules.
The best way to control the spread of the virus, protect your loved ones and ease pressure on the NHS is to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary journeys.
The vast majority of you are doing the right thing but, where clear and blatant breaches have taken place, our officers have responded to them.
On Wednesday 3 February, two young men in Brentwood were issued fines after meeting officers twice in the same evening. After it was explained to the men that they didn’t constitute a bubble and should return to their respective homes – one of which was outside Essex – our officers had no option but to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) when their advice was ignored.
An 18-year-old man had an expensive wake-up call after he travelled from West Mersea to Colchester for a coffee. He had to add the cost of an FPN to the price of his drink after he picked up his girlfriend, from a different household, to keep him company.
A Grays householder was issued an FPN for hosting a party on the evening of Friday 5 February that contravened rules preventing gathering in an indoor space with two or more people from different households.
And Colchester Community Policing Team (CPT) handed out FPNs on Saturday 6 February to two women, aged 19 and 20, who had left their separate households in London to spend the night sleeping in a car by Abberton Reservoir in freezing conditions.
The following day, FPNs were issued by Grays CPT officers to two men riding off-road bikes in Purfleet for making an unnecessary journey and being from different households.
Southend seafront has always been a popular place to socialise but this shouldn’t be the case during a pandemic.
A man who drove his three friends to Southend in the early hours and then told officers they didn’t need to know why he was there was issued with an FPN.
Another driver, who decided to take late-night trip to Southend to ‘see the sea’ with two friends, had to make alternative arrangements to get home after being stopped by officers. All three sightseers were issued with FPNs and the car was seized as it was uninsured.
A night out with friends turned out to have a hefty price for five young men in Southend yesterday, Thursday 11 February. Our special constables were patrolling in the Prittlewell area when they stopped a car, which was being driven erratically.
The occupants were searched after the Specials noticed a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. One of them, a 17-year-old boy from Hockley, was then arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon following the discovery of a knife. He has since been released under investigation. His friends were all issued with FPNs for Covid-19 breaches.
We also issued 13 FPNs to car enthusiasts who breached Covid-19 regulations after they held a meet in Great Oaks car park, Basildon – opposite the town’s police station.
Our officers found the group inspecting each other’s vehicles – a hobby which is against the government’s coronavirus regulations.
Finally, nobody wants to be late but a couple who travelled from Devon for a hospital appointment in London were directed back to the South-West after stopping off to stay with family in Benfleet. Records showed they weren’t due at the hospital for another nine days.
If you are thinking about organising a social gathering or making a non-essential journey, please reconsider, stay safe and stop the unnecessary spread of Covid-19.
Our officers will continue to take a common sense approach to the government’s regulations. They will continue to engage with people, explain the regulations and encourage them to do the right thing.
But, where reasoned conversation is not successful, we will consider enforcement action. We will continue to respond to clear and blatant breaches and, where they occur, work with our partners to resolve them.
We want people to continue to report Covid-19 breaches. You can report them via our website by using our digital 101 service, where you can speak to one of our operators via Live Chat, any day between 7am and 11pm.
For further details about the latest Covid-19 restrictions, please visit the government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home