Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Garry Forsyth speaking to HASC remotely

Bedfordshire was one of four forces to give evidence

Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Garry Forsyth was invited to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) yesterday (6 April 2020) on the force’s approach to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bedfordshire was one of four forces to give evidence to the MPs.

Speaking remotely via web link, Chief Constable Forsyth explained Bedfordshire Police’s policy of issuing penalty notices for breaches of the government’s social distancing guidance.

The force has not allowed officers to issue fines until they have been fully trained in the use of the new powers.

So far officers have only issued one fixed penalty fine for non-compliance with the new laws.

The force is continuing to urge people to adhere to government advice on staying at home to ease the spread of COVID-19.

Following a sunny weekend, which would normally see parks and pub gardens heaving with people, officers instead posted pictures of themselves patrolling key areas showing empty playgrounds, parks and riversides.

The one penalty notice was issued after a man ignored officers when they engaged and explained the reasons why people need to stay home and tried to encourage him to do so.

After giving the man time to go home, officers returned to the area and found that the man was continuing to drink on a bench and was issued a fixed penalty notice.

Chief Constable Forsyth said:

“I would like to thank each and every resident of Bedfordshire who has followed government guidance by staying home.

“We have been working hard with our partners to do everything we can to keep people safe in our communities and thank you for your efforts in helping us do this.

“Our approach has been recognised at government level and it was a privilege to be able to share news with MPs of the way we are handling this unprecedented situation.

“The continued good weather and upcoming Easter Bank Holiday weekend may tempt people to go outside, meet up with friends or family and flout government guidance, but this is the time we need to look after each other and stay at home.

“Our officers will continue to patrol key areas to make sure people are following government guidance, but please continue to follow the rules and don’t put us in a position where we have to enforce it.

“Your individual actions impact our community and by staying home you really are protecting our NHS and saving lives.”