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South Wales urged to do the right thing as firebreak restrictions lifted

AS Wales moves out of a two-week firebreak lockdown, South Wales Police is calling on communities to do the right thing to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

From today, a new set of rules are in place and police forces in Wales still have powers to take enforcement action against those who breach them.

While many of the firebreak lockdown measures have been lifted, legislation remains in place which police officers will continue to uphold – adopting the 4Es approach of engaging with the public, explaining the rules, encouraging compliance and using enforcement when absolutely necessary and appropriate.

South Wales Police will continue to work with local authority partners to 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: “I would like to thank the public who have overwhelming supported the public health response during the Firebreak period by following Welsh Government restrictions. We know it has been tough and that communities have made many sacrifices and that this year has been extremely tough for people across South Wales.

As we leave the firebreak period, I am appealing to the public to do right thing and to follow the new regulations – by doing so we can stop the spread of Coronavirus sooner and prevent members of our communities sadly losing their lives from this virus.

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.

“We will continue to respond to concerns about the Coronavirus regulations being breached and work with partners to carry out enforcement of the regulations in a proportionate way.

“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. If you show a blatant disregard for the rules then you should expect the police or our partner agencies to take enforcement action.”

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael added: “As we move out of the two-week firebreak lockdown I wholeheartedly support the First Minister’s call for people to think about what they SHOULD do to keep themselves safe, rather than looking what they CAN do within the rules. Those who think that ‘anything goes’ as we emerge from the firebreak simply don’t understand the seriousness of the challenges we face.

“Most people have made real sacrifices over many weeks and months and it would be madness to throw away all that hard work. It should not require laws or police enforcement to bring that about – it’s about individual and collective responsibility to do the right thing.

“Unfortunately there are a minority of people who either pay no attention to the rules or look at the rules for ways of getting round them or pushing them to the limit. Such behaviour is completely reckless and unacceptable and will only force the introduction of further restrictions. Let’s work together to avoid that happening.

“You only have to read the health data to see the numbers of people being admitted to hospital and dying on a daily basis – it is that serious.

““While many of the rules are relaxed, it is now more important than ever for us all to take personal and collective responsibility to look after ourselves and our families – to save lives and to protect the NHS.

“I have been impressed by the way in which police officers in South Wales have struck a balance between engaging with people and explaining the rules – only resorting to enforcement when it is necessary and proportionate but then doing so without fear or favour.

“Police officers have had to face the same personal challenges as us all during the pandemic so it is commendable that they have played their part with local authority and NHS partners in tackling the pandemic while continuing to tackle crime, violence and exploitation to protect people from harm and keep our communities safe – while also having to keep themselves and their families safe.”

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