Public urged not to flout COVID restrictions over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Despite no fines being issued in Wiltshire or Swindon for breaches to the COVID regulations since May due to the level of compliance and engagement we are seeing within the county, the public are being urged to continue to follow the guidance and not to flout the rules.
Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, tougher penalties are being introduced tomorrow (Friday 28 August) for those who do not wear face coverings in areas where it is now mandated to do so and for those who organise, facilitate or attend any large gathering or unlicensed music event.
The message from Wiltshire Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon and our local partners is clear;
It's not over - Coronavirus is still a deadly threat and it should be everyone's priority to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.
National data released today shows that no Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued for COVID breaches in the county since the end of May and only one arrest has been made in connect with breaches since June.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said: "Firstly, I would like to thank our communities in Wiltshire and Swindon for continuing to take personal responsibility for their actions in the fight against COVID-19.
"As we approach the Bank Holiday weekend, I know the temptation might be there to start taking a more relaxed approach to the guidance and regulations which have been put in place by the Government.
"However, it is vital that we all continue to follow the guidance on social distancing and ensure we are all wearing face coverings where mandated to do so. This week tougher penalties have come into place for those who organise, facilitate or attend any large gathering or unlicensed music events. These types of unlawful events place the public at a high level of risk and are likely to spread the virus. If we come across these types of events we will actively look to use our powers
"Coronavirus is still a deadly threat and it should be everyone's priority to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.
"Our officers, staff and volunteers will be out in our communities across the long weekend and will continue to engage with the public to encourage compliance with the legislation.
"If anyone has information about a large gathering or event, please contact us on 101 as soon as you can.
"We hope you all have a safe and restful Bank Holiday weekend."
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Jerry Herbert said: "As we head towards the August Bank Holiday weekend, I am sure many of you are looking forward to an extended break from work.
"It is, however, crucial that we all remember that the nationwide effort to reduce the level of COVID-19 infection within our communities remains all of our responsibility - Bank Holiday or not.
"The Government is increasing the fines for people not wearing a face covering in areas where it is now mandated or setting up or attending raves or unlicensed music events.
"These increased financial penalties come in to effect from tomorrow ahead of the long weekend.
"Although this will hopefully serve as a deterrent to some, the main focus of Wiltshire Police frontline officers and staff is to engage with our communities and educate them on the latest guidance or potential sanctions should they disregard the legislation.
"Whilst the preferred approach will always be around engagement and explaining to communities - officers will use their powers and enforce the legislation where they feel appropriate and when public safety is being put at risk."
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have also issued crime trend data today for the period between April and May.
This shows a 32% national decrease in total crime when compared to a two-month average in the pre-lockdown period.
The survey also found that 91% of people said they were satisfied with how policing has handled the pandemic.
The lifting of lockdown restrictions in July heightened some of the demands Wiltshire Police face, particularly those related to public order, violence against the person and anti-social behaviour.
In comparison to last summer, we are seeing an increase of 26% in public order offences and an 18% increase in reports of anti-social behaviour.
Earlier this month, we launched a campaign with the aim of highlighting some of these additional summer demands, and whilst there has been some reduction in these offences as a result, compared to last year we are still seeing more of these crime types.
We continue to proactively work with the public and our partners to not only reduce this demand on our officers and staff, but to prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
You can find out more about the summer demand campaign, which runs until early September, on the campaigns section of the website and by following #summerdemand on social media.