Coronavirus London: Met Police crack down on high R-rate boroughs

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The Metropolitan Police have deployed extra officers to Hammersmith and Fulham and Hackney as the Government tries to control those boroughs with the highest rates of coronavirus transmission.

As the nation continues to grapple with the pandemic, officers will conduct extra patrols in the worst-affected areas in the capital to help clampdown on breaches of the regulations.

It comes as data released by the National Police Chief's Council today revealed around two-thirds of coronavirus fines have been handed to those under the age of 35. 

Under the new clampdown, officers will target those making the most 'deliberate, dangerous or flagrant of breaches' and who risk putting others lives in danger.  

The police have deployed extra officers to Hammersmith and Fulham and Hackney as the Government and  will conduct extra patrols in the worst-affected areas in the capital. (Stock image)

Among the worst-affected areas in the capital are Hammersmith and Fulham, Hackney, Ealing, Kingston Upon Thames, Redbridge, Hounslow and Tower Hamlets

Also among the worst-affected areas in the capital are Ealing, Kingston Upon Thames, Redbridge, Hounslow, Hillingdon and Tower Hamlets. 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, the Met's lead for Covid-19 response, said: 'This approach does not mean that other areas of London will see a reduction in existing patrols to clamp down on rule breaking. 

'However, in those areas of London where the transmission rate is at its highest, we will be doing our part to help shut down reckless breaches of the regulations.

'I know the vast majority of Londoners are sticking to the rules which are designed to keep everyone in our communities safe. But, there is a small minority who have a disregard for the health of our communities and it is those individuals who we will be targeting with these new patrols.

'We have been, and continue to listen to our communities and explain to them our policing approach, and have been regularly reviewing our deployment plan according to the latest infection rates by PHE.

'This remains under constant assessment and where we see an increase in reported cases we adapt our response to reflect that.

'Extra patrols have, this week, been deployed to Hammersmith and Fulham and Hackney, and we will continue to monitor the reported cases to ensure we are doing all we can, working with our communities, to tackle the further spread of this disease.

'We are now approaching the Halloween weekend; another significant date in the annual calendar for celebrating, which is going to be different this year with parties unable to go ahead as normal.

'As much as the restrictions may seem disheartening, we want to remind people that they are in place for an important reason, to keep everyone safe.

'Whilst continuing to adopt the 4 Es approach, engage, explain, encourage and enforce – those not complying with the restrictions can expect to see officers enforcing the legislation and fines more quickly than previously. 

'People are now much more aware of the regulations and their responsibilities.

'We will always listen to our communities and seek to engage with them; throughout the period of lockdown, this is the stance we have been taking, however, we are now in Tier Two of restrictions and we have a responsibility, alongside our partners including PHE and the government to ensure people are kept safe and so will be moving more quickly onto enforcement as previously seen.'    

Today, data released by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) showed 20,223 fines for breaching coronavirus restrictions were issued by police in England and Wales between March 27 and October 19 - 17,451 in England and 2,772 in Wales.  

These include 980 for breaches of local lockdown laws - with the majority issued by the Greater Manchester (374) and Northumbria (366) forces.

Overall, the weekly number of fines rose between mid-September and early October.

Analysis provided to Number 10 by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) showed that deaths will peak at a lower level than in the spring but could remain high for weeks or even months

Around eight in 10 of the enforcement notices were issued to men, 78 per cent, while 35 per cent went to 18 to 24-year-olds, 18 per cent to those aged 25-29 and 14 per cent to people aged 30-34.

Where the person fined self-identified their ethnicity, 80 per cent went to a white person, 12 per cent to an Asian person and 5 per cent to someone who is black.

Provisional figures for the new three-tier system show 268 fines have been issued in England, with 65 handed out for a breach of regulations in Tier 1, 79 in Tier 2, and 124 in Tier 3.

Also in England, 64 fines were issued for large gatherings such as illegal raves and parties, carrying a £10,000 penalty. Two were handed out in Wales.

There were also 399 fines for breaches of the rule of six, that came into force on September 14.

On face coverings, 258 fixed penalties were handed out between June 15 and October 19 in England and Wales. Of these, 86 were on public transport, handed out by nine forces, while 172 were in settings such as shops, across 21 forces.

Forty-seven fines were handed out to businesses in England for breaches including not closing at 10pm, not enforcing face mask rules and not sticking to table service. 

International quarantine figures show that up to October 19, 4,518 cases investigated by the police found the person abiding by the rules, while another 284 were in breach but they were persuaded to obey the rules without being fined.

However, 380 people had given the wrong address so no police action could be taken, while another 629 were out when officers attended and so also faced no further police action.

The NPCC said these cases are referred back to UK Border Force.

Police issued 125 fines to those failing to self-isolate after arriving in England from a country on the UK Government quarantine list.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: 'We have seen an increase in enforcement activity in the last month, reflecting new regulations coming into effect, and a shift towards quicker enforcement against those knowingly breaking the rules.

What are the current guidelines?

People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting

This means keeping two metres apart where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place, such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors. 

While outside people must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside

People must try to reduce the number of journeys they make and if they need to travel they should try to walk or cycle where possible

Exceptions where people from different households can gather in groups larger than 6 people include for work, for weddings or a funeral

Venues can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors with anyone who they do not live with

All businesses must follow strict coronavirus guidelines 

Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter

You can move home and travel to go to university but you must not move backward and forward between your permanent home and term time address during term time 

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions must only take place in Covid-secure venues and guests are restricted to 15 people 

Organised indoor sport, exercise classes and other activity groups are only permitted indoors if is it possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with 

'Where people don't listen to police officers' encouragement then we will take action. That is our job and I believe the public expect us to do that.

'Coronavirus is something we have all had to rapidly adapt to, and officers have had to pick up new regulations in a record pace and apply them across the population.

'The number of instances where enforcement action is necessary at all is a small fraction of the total engagement we have had with the public.

'Enforcement doesn't and shouldn't always equal police involvement. Individuals, businesses and a range of agencies all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed, and police will continue to play their part.'

Figures for selected crimes also published by the NPCC on Wednesday show there had been a 27 per cent rise in the number of assaults on emergency services workers in the four weeks to September 27, compared to the same period last year.

Police-recorded rape rose by 2 per cent, while domestic abuse incidents were up 3 per cent.

Overall crime fell by 6 per cent in the same period compared to 2019, although police chiefs maintain that demand on forces remains high.

The number of 999 calls and 101 calls were both down by 9 per cent in the four weeks to September 27 compared to last year. Officer and staff absence levels are at around 5.9 per cent.

Mr Hewitt added: 'Although overall crime is lower than this time last year, demand on the police remains significant.

'As well as day-to-day policing, to prevent and tackle crime and keep communities safe, we are working alongside our partners both locally and nationally in tackling this pandemic and limiting the spread of the virus.

'Officers and staff are incredibly busy, working in challenging circumstances.'   

The data also revealed that more than 1,000 people who should have been self-isolating after entering the UK from abroad could not be traced by the police. 

Figures showed that up to October 19, 4,518 cases investigated by the police found the person abiding by international travel quarantine rules.

Another 284 were in breach but they were persuaded to obey the rules without being fined, and 125 were fined for failing to self-isolate. 

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: 'In those cases where we can't find an answer, that is then passed back through ultimately back to Border Force and is their process to manage.

'It is not the police role to go searching for those people.

'As things stand, policing is now back to demand levels, in terms of demand for service and crime, as we were this time last year, give or take a few percentages.

'So we have to be very clear that we deal with those issues, and then we are very clear that we are supporting Covid regulations and the work against the virus, but we need to do that in a proportionate way.

'I don't think it's our responsibility to go looking for people in those circumstances.'

The latest figures from the NPCC show that crime levels have returned near to those pre-pandemic - they were 6 per cent lower in the four weeks to September 27 than in the same period last year - while forces are also dealing with enforcing coronavirus restrictions.

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