Suffolk Police warns fines will be handed out for lockdown breaches as top cop makes 'no apology' for asking why people are out of their homes
One of Suffolk's top cops has said he will make 'no apology' for his officers demanding to know why people are out of their homes after the government re-introduced England's strict lockdown laws.
The government ordered people to stay shut away in their houses during a special broadcast on Monday as it battles against soaring coronavirus rates, with the latest stay-at-home order set to last until at least the middle of February.
Today Chief Superintendent Kim Warner said the announcement of the third England-wide lockdown was 'a bitter pill to swallow' but that it was 'a necessary one' and warned those flouting the rules would be fined.
"I make no apology for our officers who will be asking questions and will be inquisitive about why individuals may be out of their homes," he said.
"I cannot be clearer, those who are blatantly ignoring the restrictions will be given a fine as their actions are putting others at risk through their behaviour.
"Enforcement will be carried out when required and will be proportionate, but officers will not waste time endlessly encouraging those who commit the most serious breaches."
Ch Supt Warner told county residents: "We have seen a rapid rise in positive cases across the country and in Suffolk so let's do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus."
Tory MPs have criticised the restrictions being imposed on civil liberties, and branded them 'pettifogging and malicious'.
But this morning Priti Patel, the home secretary, backed police forces across the country asking why people were outside their homes.
"Throughout this coronavirus pandemic, during the last lockdown, the police have been asking individuals why are they out and about, and should they be out and about, when the message right now is stay at home," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Under the lockdown rules two people from separate households can meet up in public and go for a walk. Larger gatherings are banned and to be outside your home you need 'good reason'.
The wide-ranging powers, unseen in recent British history until last year, were brought back after a surge in coronavirus cases which, according to latest data form the Office for National Statistics, has seen infections soar to 1 in 45 people in the east of England with the disease.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, yesterday warned the restrictions could remain until April when rates should start to drop off.
"We are in a tough final stretch, made only tougher by the new variant," he told the House of Commons. "Our emergence from the lockdown cocoon will not be a big bang but a gradual unwrapping."
Matt Hancock, health secretary and MP for West Suffolk, said the government would wait to see a reduction in the number of deaths before starting to lift restrictions in England.