Police rule out road blocks but will issue fines to Londoners who break Tier 4 rules
Police are ready to dish out fines to Londoners who flout Tier 4 rules in the run-up to Christmas but have ruled out road blocks to stop people from travelling.
The government’s lockdown announcement on Saturday sparked a flood of people fleeing the capital before the tough new rules came into effect across London and the south east.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called those who crammed into weekend trains “highly irresponsible”, amid fears of thousands ignoring the Tier 4 ‘Stay at Home’ message to be with their extended families this Christmas.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt said forces would be “stepping up visibility” this week to deter people from leaving their homes unnecessarily, warning: “Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice.”
But he added: “There is no intention to establish road blocks or routinely stop vehicles.”
Police forces around the country have adopted a policy of explaining the rules and encouraging members of the public to follow them, before resorting to fines or even arrests.
There were chaotic scenes at King’s Cross St Pancras on Saturday night after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new lockdown, as some dashed to leave London before new curbs came into effect on Sunday morning.
British Transport Police has promised an “enhanced presence” at major transport hubs, with officers speaking to travellers to remind them of the tough new rules.
“Officers will engage with passengers and only use enforcement if absolutely necessary”, said Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan.
Scotland Yard, which does not oversee a Tier 4 boundary, is expected to focus on businesses flouting the shutdown rules as well as illegal large Christmas parties.
Commander Alex Murray warned this weekend: “If people ignore these new rules, make reckless decisions that risk lives, I make no apology for the subsequent enforcement action that will follow.”
Tier 4 regulations insist on people staying at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse” to travel, while Christmas bubbles have been scrapped for these areas.