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Bedfordshire Police warns it will be taking firmer action against persistent flouters of the restrictions

Bedfordshire’s frontline services are working together to urge the public to stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Bedfordshire is continuing to increase with more than 400 hospital admissions and over 50 deaths. There is also the tragic news about 15 residents from one Luton care home who passed away this week.

The number deaths is expected to continue to rise in the coming days as the virus takes hold in the county.

A delivery of 45,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was received by Bedfordshire Police this week. This has been distributed by volunteers from the Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC) throughout frontline partner agencies in health, social care and local authorities, to help protect frontline workers over Easter.

The government has brought in strict measures to reduce people’s movements in a bid to try to prevent the spread. But with sunny and warm weather expected to continue into the long weekend, there are concerns people will ignore the advice.

Bedfordshire Police has warned that it will be taking firmer action against persistent flouters of the restrictions.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said:

“This is an emergency and there’s no getting around that this is the best way to protect everyone around you, whatever their age.

“There cannot be a single realistic excuse now that people are not aware of the advice. This week has seen the highest number of deaths registered in 24 hours so far.

“It would be an iniquitous act of selfishness to behave in a way that could cause further infection that could be prevented; just ask our A&E doctors in Bedfordshire.

“Supporting them isn’t just a case of clapping on Thursday nights, it’s thinking about them and their patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when the sun is shining.”

Bedfordshire Police will be conducting additional patrols in open spaces and leisure hotspots to ensure people are adhering to government rules designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Advertising trucks and billboards will also be used to reinforce the message for people to stay home and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Parent fined after child persisted to ignore police instructions

Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said:

“The government guidance is clear, and those who chose to ignore it, particularly to gather in large groups can expect to be fined.

“Our officers will continue to patrol key areas to make sure people are following government guidance, but please continue to follow the rules so we can focus our valuable resources on responding to calls for service.

“Where people don’t act on our advice, we will have to resort to enforcement.”

To date Bedfordshire Police has issued four penalty notices – two in the Bedford area and two in the Luton area.

This step is taken as a final resort when attempts to explain and encourage people to follow the rules preventing unnecessary visits outdoors or gatherings of people are ignored.

In one example, a parent was fined after a child persisted to ignore police instructions.

DCC Rodenhurst continued:

“We do have the ability to record the names and details of anyone we do ask to move on, so that if we have to speak again to the same individual, further enforcement action can be taken.”

“At this challenging time, we remain committed to protecting the public from all forms of crime and sadly we are still seeing increases in domestic abuse and child protection matters.

“Please look after each other and help us by adopting the government guidance, it will help us to ensure that our limited resources can best protect those most at risk from harm.”