Norfolk Police are adopting a “fair but firm” approach to dealing with people who flout coronavirus lockdown laws, the force has said.
And while the overwhelming majority of people are adhering to the restrictions, policing figures have revealed most of the lawbreakers in Norfolk so far have been young men.
The force also said the majority of tickets had been handed out at weekends and most of the fixed penalty notices issued had been for contravening restrictions on movement.
The figures also showed around half of those issued with fines had previous convictions, more than 50 per cent issued with fines were aged 29 or under and more than 80 per cent of fines were handed to men.
Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey said this week people should adhere to social distancing, stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
In the wake debate about what constituted “essential travel”, Mr Bailey said the force’s stance had not changed.
“I want to be absolutely clear to the communities of Norfolk that our approach to policing these restrictions has not changed.
“The guidance was shared by our partners in the criminal justice system with the aim of helping officers in making judgements on what is considered “reasonable” within the new legislation.
“While the advice can help inform officers in their approach to incidents, it is still a decision for officers based on the factors in front of them, to be clear it does not change our policing stance.
“Our approach to dealing with people who flout the law is fair but firm – officers follow a four-step escalation process and we will engage, explain and encourage in the first instance.Enforcement is last resort,” said Mr Bailey.
“Social distancing can only work if everyone works together and follows advice.
“Of course it’s tempting to travel further afield for a walk and some fresh air, but it is not essential and the one thing we do not want to see is the public thinking it is save to travel to beaches and beauty spots and enjoying what they have on offer.
“It is not safe to do this, businesses and shops remain closed and the public needs to stay at home,” he added.
The extended lockdown means people should only leave home for essential shopping, one form of exercise, any medical need or to help a vulnerable person, or to travel to and from work if it cannot be done from home.