Thank you Surrey for staying home and saving lives
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Surrey Police would like to thank the Surrey community who stayed home over the Easter bank holiday.
Looking back on the four day weekend, the number of crimes reported to Surrey Police over the four-day Easter weekend remained low as our communities overwhelmingly followed the government’s Covid-19 advice.
Of the incidents that were reported to us we had to deploy a drone to break up a group of 30 people not observing social distancing in Walton-on-Thames on Friday 10 April. This method of communicating without physically putting officers at additional risk by approaching them was effective and the group left without officers having to take further action.
If required, the drone will direct large groups of people congregating in outdoor spaces to leave the area by playing a pre-recorded message of “Attention this a Police message. You are gathering in breach of government guidelines to stay at home in response to the coronavirus. You are putting lives at risk. Please disperse immediately and return home.” The use of the drone makes it quicker to access groups of people while encouraging them to do the right thing. The use of a drone has been used by Surrey Police and Sussex Police since the introduction of the new legislation.
On Friday, Surrey Police was called to Box Hill, a popular Surrey beauty spot, after receiving reports of a number of cyclists ignoring road closures and social distancing restrictions. Officers intervened with riders cycling along the Zig Zag Road before re-establishing road closures. On Saturday officers responded to concerns about motorcyclists on the A24 and engaged with cyclists ignoring give way signs on the A24 at West Humble.
Across Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Roads Policing Officers across Surrey and Sussex carried out 49 stop checks (Fri=25, Sat=12, Sun=12). The vast majority of these resulted in advice being given around social distancing. Surrey Police intends to maintain road safety and deal with those who have a disregard for others by travelling for non-essential purposes or driving in an unsafe manner.
In total from all incidents reported to Surrey Police over Friday-Sunday, a very small number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), almost 90, had to be issued. This represents a tiny proportion of the overall number of interactions our officers had over the weekend, the vast majority of which were positive. Officers engage with members of the public in the first instance, and explain the importance of following the government advice, to protect public health and the NHS. If members of the public ignore the encouragement to observe the legislation given by the officers, only then will enforcement action be considered.
It was recognised that the majority of FPNs issued were given to people who aren’t residents of Surrey and have travelled into the County. One group who had travelled from Chiswick stated that they were “just being cheeky” when questioned on why they had taken the unnecessary journey.
Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said: “Once again, I’m so thankful for the amazing community spirit across Surrey. As social distancing becomes more routine for the public I’d like to thank the vast majority of local people for observing the government advice and staying home to save lives this weekend.
“There have been hot spots where we have needed to take action, such as in Walton-on-Thames and at Box Hill, but these have been dealt with quickly and effectively by our officers engaging with those involved.
“I’d also like to thank those people who have been reporting potential breaches of the government legislation to us via our website. Each report is reviewed, triaged and prioritised for response.
“It has become apparent that there are certain crime groups of particular concern during the isolation period. These include domestic abuse, fraud and child exploitation. Surrey Police continues to hold these as a top priority and encourages victims of crime to report to us.
“We have also been made aware of incidents of key workers including police officers, paramedics, shop workers and security guards being threatened or abused whilst carrying out their essential work. This will not be tolerated and action will be taken against those guilty of doing this.
“Finally I’d ask people to keep up their fantastic effort and to not become complacent about slowing the spread of Covid-19. Please stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives”.
Under government regulations, you should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
Travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home