Police chiefs have urged people to continue to follow the coronavirus restrictions during the second national lockdown and warned they will "collectively target those who flout the restrictions".
Chief Constables from the North West, including Greater Manchester Police's Ian Hopkins, have issued an open letter ahead of the four-week lockdown coming into force across England on Thursday (5 November) in which they urged: "Let us all do everything we can to get through this most awful of times and prevent any further suffering across the North West."
In a direct message to the region's residents, they wrote: "To the majority of our communities who have tried so hard to comply with restrictions, please carry on. We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives.
"To the minority who feel the restrictions don’t apply to them, be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement. We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions, such as self-isolating where necessary."
GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins
Police have issued thousands of fines over the last few months to people found to have breached coronavirus regulations.
They say they are now looking to take speedy action against a "significant" number of people who have ignored the fixed penalty notices they have been issued with.
The letter says: "Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices, a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them. We are therefore seeking support from Government and the Judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly."
The police chiefs also said they have "seen great support from the majority of our communities" and have "tried to ensure we have maintained the principle of policing with consent" through the 4E's model of Engage, Explain, Encourage and, only as a last resort, Enforce in line with "a very measured approach" adopted by police nationally.
They added that "the majority of the public" want to see forces taking "a consistent and robust approach" to enforcing the rules, and that they have taken "a firmer stance" since local restrictions have been imposed across large parts of the North West to move more quickly to issuing fines for "those deliberately flouting the law and putting lives at risk".
Keep up to date with all the latest local and national developments here: https://www.questmedianetwork.co.uk/news/daily-coronavirus-updates/.