Dorset Police says it has issued 20 penalties since officers began a new patrol called Operation Tattoo last week to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
It has designated a special Covid-19 police car to assist officers in ensuring people follow the government guidelines. The unit is joined by an additional support unit between 4 pm and midnight each day.
Dorset Police say that the operation is set to continue until February 2021 regardless of ongoing restrictions.
Most of the 20 fixed penalties dealt out so far were in Bournemouth and Poole. They can incur a fine up to £200.
In addition, a total of 164 breaches have been reported to Dorset Police Force Command Centre in just the past week.
Superintendent Heather Dixey from Dorset Police said:
“We want the communities of Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to be reassured we are doing everything possible to provide visibility and deal with COVID-19-related calls being made to Dorset Police.
“The last week has seen 164 calls made to our Force Command Centre, an increase on the first week of Tier 4 national restrictions, and more than 20 Fixed Penalty Notices issued for breaches of legislation.”
Observing the lockdown
Operation Tattoo was launched when the second national lockdown came into force in England on Thursday 5th November 2020.
Superintendent Heather Dixey said:
“Operation Tattoo units will continue with a 4Es (Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce) approach to dealing with COVID-19 issues and we hope the public will respect advice they are given if they are in contravention of legislation which is there to protect them and our communities.
“However, subject to specific exemptions, it is illegal to gather in groups of more than two people or have gatherings of mixed households. If police receive reports of this and need to take enforcement action we can and will to prevent spread of the virus.”
The police officers responsible for Operation Tattoo are collaborating with the local authorities – including the newly appointed Covid Marshals.
The marshals do not have the same powers as the police, but they do have a radio link to the operation’s police officers who do have the power to issue penalties.
Superintendent Heather Dixey added:
“We know dealing with these national restrictions is difficult for our communities, but we must all comply with these rules and not step outside of the legislation.
“Our communities have largely been compliant throughout this year, but we must continue to do the right thing and not break the law – potentially putting many lives at risk.
“Our public quite rightly expects steps to be taken to protect them and maintain their safety and if that means taking swift and decisive enforcement action we will.
“My hope is the extra community presence will ensure people are aware of the legislation and what they need to do to protect themselves and their loved ones. This is now and not forever – take the steps to comply now and we are much more likely to see restrictions lifted more quickly.”