Tuesday 24 March 2020 2:47 pm

Coronavirus: Police can do 'whatever is appropriate' to enforce lockdown

Police will be granted the powers to do “whatever they consider appropriate” to enforce the coronavirus lockdown measures introduced by the Prime Minister last night.

Regulation will be in place by Thursday at the latest, allowing officers to issue fines to those who refuse to comply with the rules set out by Boris Johnson in his historic address, which was watched by an estimated 27m people across all the major broadcasters.

Fines will start out as a fixed penalty of £30 but they can “increase significantly if necessary to ensure public compliance,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said this afternoon.

Failure to pay the fine could be subject to criminal proceedings and a summary conviction

Police officers will also be allowed to do “whatever they consider appropriate to disperse people who are flouting the rules”, he added.

“As is usual, the police will exercise their own discretion in use of powers.”

The new regulations, aimed at keeping people in their own homes wherever possible, will be introduced as a statutory instrument under the Public Health (Control of Public Disease) Act 1984, rather than through the Coronavirus Bill, currently making its way through parliament.

Health secretary Matt Hancock is expected to take the lead.

Asked about the practicalities of enforcing the measures, which include restricting people to one form of exercise a day, the Prime Minister’s spokesman added: “This was a clear instruction on behalf of govt and, as with existing laws, the overwhelming majority of public can be expected to follow rules without further action.”