Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Police are seen enforcing draconian new powers by shutting shops, breaking up groups of pedestrians

Police officers across the UK have today started using draconian powers to disperse crowds of more than two to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Fines of up to £1,000 are planned for those who flout rules announced by the Prime Minister last night putting strict limits on when people are able to leave the house, and banning public gatherings.

And officers were seen breaking up a group in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre this afternoon, including four people who appeared to be sitting too close together on benches.

Met Police also spoke to people gathered in groups larger than two in central London parks. 

Today experts warned forces will have to ignore some crime in order to tackle Britain's coronavirus lockdown as officers warned that under-staffed forces will struggle to enforce draconian new movement rules.

Police Federation of England and Wales chairman John Apter said officers would have to make tough decisions about law and order as they were called upon to keep people at home as much as possible.

Mr Apter also said officers on the frontline pandemic battle are being deliberately coughed and spat at by 'vile creatures' using coronavirus as a weapon.

But senior figures have warned that the stringent measures, similar to those already in place in Italy, will be 'challenging' with forces across the UK having far fewer officers to call upon than authorities in Rome - with shortages of up to 20,000 officers.

Mr Apter told the BBC today:  It's going to be really tough and what we have to get across to the public is that as far as policing is concerned it is not business as usual.

'The normal things my colleagues, officers, would normally go to, we need to decide what it is we cannot go to any more.

'Because dealing with this partial lock-down is going to put incredible amounts of pressure on my colleagues - and they are up for this.'

His warning came after former GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy contraasted the police numbers in Italy with those here.

Sir Peter told BBC Breakfast: 'If you compare us to Italy, we have about half the number of police officers that they have. 

'We don't have a paramilitary police force like the Carabinieri. Our police officers are already very stretched.


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