SOUTH WALES Police and the seven local authorities in South Wales have established Joint Enforcement Teams (JET) to continue supporting to the collective effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Made up of police and council officers, the JETs will take action against individuals, businesses and licensed premises which blatantly fail to comply with the regulations or repeatedly breach them.
Chief Superintendent Andy Valentine, who is leading the South Wales Police response to Covid-19, said: “Throughout this pandemic we have adopted a policing style of explaining the rules, encouraging people to comply with them and only using enforcement as a last resort.
“That will continue and although we have been given additional powers by Welsh Government and the establishment of Joint Enforcement Teams we will continue to ensure that our approach to enforcement is proportionate.
“But our message to people and businesses who continue to flout the rules is clear: You need to do the right thing to stop the spread of Coronavirus in our communities and if you show a blatant disregard for the rules then you should expect the police or our partner agencies to take enforcement action.”
Cllr Rob Jones, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council and WLGA spokesperson for Community Safety said: “We welcome the formation of the Joint Enforcement Teams and are confident this additional resource will further strengthen the partnership work which has been critical in responding to the pandemic.
“In Neath Port Talbot we are already seeing the benefits on the ground, with visits by the JET team this past weekend resulting in two improvement notices issued to venues that were not in compliance.
“To slow the spread of the virus it is vital that those who are flouting the rules do not undermine the efforts of the majority of people and businesses, who are making every effort to keep our communities safe.”
Cllr Neil Moore, Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, said: “Since the start of the pandemic when restrictions were first introduced, the vast majority of Vale of Glamorgan residents have followed the rules carefully, listening to safety guidance and avoiding situations that pose a risk to themselves and the wider community. I’d like again thank those individuals for their considerate, public-spirited approach.
“However, unfortunately, there is a minority that refuse to show the same responsible attitude and their selfish and reckless behaviour threatens to undermine the efforts of everyone else.
“Where issues relating to compliance surface, our officers will always seek to work with individuals, businesses and licensed premises wherever possible. But in situations where people are continuously and deliberately breaking the rules, the public can be assured that we will take more serious action.”
Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Delivery & Operations, David Hopkins, added: “Our licensing and public health teams have been working very closely with South Wales Police colleagues over a number of months doing spot checks to ensure businesses are complying with the Covid-19 regulations. We’ve seen really good examples of businesses doing their bit and we’ve also taken firm action where we’ve needed to.
“We know people want to feel safe when they go out to the pub or restaurant in the evening and our joint enforcement teams will continue to play their part by ensuring businesses are doing their bit to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Cllr Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council, said: “The establishment of the Joint Enforcement Team in Cardiff builds on the work that the council and local partners have undertaken since restrictions began to ease across Wales, to ensure that individuals and businesses are following the rules put in place to reduce the risk of community transmission.
“Licensed premises make a significant contribution to the economy, but bars and pubs in particular are a cause for concern if customers are not following the guidelines on numbers and social distancing. The establishment of the Joint Enforcement Teams brings with it additional powers which will help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, reduce the risk of infection and slow the spread.”
Councillor Dhanisha Patel, chair of the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) joint committee, added: “Over the last few months, our enforcement teams have been asked to take on a far wider remit than normal, ensuring new regulations are met and helping to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
“As part of this role, we have been working closely with South Wales Police and businesses, providing advice and support, and issuing enforcement notices as a last resort for non-compliance.”
Councillor Patel, who is also Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet member for future generations and wellbeing, added: “Targeted activity by the police and enforcement officers has shown the vast majority of businesses have implemented the necessary measures with only a few having been served improvement or closure notices.
“It has been an incredibly challenging year – we would like to thank businesses for their continued efforts in ensuring both their staff and customers as safe as possible, and also remind those who fail to ensure the regulations are met that enforcement action will be taken.”