Coronavirus enforcement in Bedfordshire boosted by surge funding Image by Philip Steury AdobeStock_332281171.jpg

Funding for enforcement checks and increased police patrols

Police forces and local councils will receive an additional £60 million to step up the enforcement of coronavirus rules. This is part of the government’s plans to tackle the rise in infections.

The surge funding is to enable police to increase patrols in town centres and ensure that people are complying with the new restrictions, particularly in high-risk areas.

The government said that police will also provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test & Trace to enforce self-isolation requirements. Adding that local councils will use the funding to increase their compliance work and enforcement checks on businesses. Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“The vast majority of the British public has come together, followed the law and helped prevent the spread of this virus.
But we’ve been clear that, with infections rising, we will not allow a small minority of people to reverse our hard-won progress.

“This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences.”

The government will also publish new guidance outlining the types of compliance and enforcement activities councils could carry out. This includes covering costs associated with stepping up enforcement activity, measures to help the public and businesses to understand the latest regulations and funding the cost of dedicated staff to encourage compliance with the rules, including marshals.

Marshals, or stewards and ambassadors as they are referred to in some areas, have already been rolled out by many councils to help businesses and communities to follow the latest guidelines, freeing up the police and other enforcement officers such as environmental health officers.

They do not carry out an enforcement role, which continues to be the role of the police and designated local council enforcement officers.

Central Bedfordshire Council will receive £112,886. A spokesperson for the Council said:

“This funding stream was announced yesterday [7 October 2020] and we naturally welcome any additional grant money to help us make sure that businesses are COVID-secure and following all the relevant rules and guidance.

“We have received guidance from the Government on what aspects the funding will cover and will be discussing how this will be used over the next few weeks.”

Police must show how the money is being used to tackle non-compliance

The funding will be provided to police only for use in relation to coronavirus enforcement. Forces will be required to provide the Home Office with enforcement plans to demonstrate how the money is being used to tackle non-compliance with public health rules. Bedfordshire Police has been awarded £270,485. Its spokesperson said:

“We’re waiting to understand more about the funding and will continue to work with partners to proactively ensure people are following the government guidelines.

“The majority of people in Bedfordshire have continued to follow the rules, and we would like to thank the public for assisting us in keeping people safe, helping to contain the spread of the virus and protecting the NHS.”

The Home Office is also launching an income loss recovery scheme for police forces to recover a proportion of income they have been losing due to the pandemic.

The scheme will apply to sales, fees and charges where forces would usually generate income, such as policing of sporting fixtures or providing security at airports.

The scheme will enable forces to recover 75p in every £1 of budgeted income lost due to COVID-19 restrictions this financial year once forces have absorbed 5% of those losses themselves.

Bedford Borough Council has been awarded £85,088 funding, but did not respond when asked how this would be used.