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Coronavirus: PSNI directive on officer approval for fines continues after Executive moves to clarify rules

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The PSNI received thousands of reports of social distancing concerns from the public. (Liam McBurney/PA)

The PSNI received thousands of reports of social distancing concerns from the public. (Liam McBurney/PA)

The PSNI received thousands of reports of social distancing concerns from the public. (Liam McBurney/PA)

A directive to all PSNI officers to first seek the approval of a senior officer before issuing a fine for any breach of coronavirus restrictions has been extended.

In an e-mail on Friday night, PSNI officers were informed by Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd that the instruction which was first introduced for just 48 hours will continue.

In correspondence, seen by The Impartial Reporter newspaper, Mr Todd told officers: “Whilst this measure was introduced to quality assure our approach to enforcement, it is now appropriate to use the facility to assist officers whilst guidance is drafted and finalised."

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 introduced by the Northern Ireland Assembly states that no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse".

Last week Mr Todd informed officers that the temporary and emergency powers “place very real restrictions on the public".

“As such both the powers and our policing of them are under constant scrutiny and regular review.

“As a police service, we welcome that scrutiny and I continue to see on a daily basis that you exercise these extraordinary powers with professionalism and common sense.”

He explained that any officer intending to issue a ‘CRN’ or ‘Covid-1 FPN’ for any breach of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) “must first seek the approval of the silver commander at the strategic co-organisation centre before proceeding.”

One of the "reasonable excuses" listed in the legislation is "to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household".

The PSNI can break up gatherings in breach of social distancing rules and issue fines of up to £960 for those who repeatedly disregard officer requests to disperse.

Last Friday police also revealed they had issued 358 coronavirus-related penalty notices. A further 570 community resolution notices were given out.

It also received 3,787 reports in just six days from the public over social distancing concerns.

Belfast Telegraph