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PSNI chief tells officers to seek approval before issuing coronavirus fines

For the next 48 hours, any PSNI officer intending to issue a fine for any breach of coronavirus restrictions must first seek the approval of a senior officer.

The directive was issued by Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd in an e-mail to police officers and came into effect on Thursday morning at 7am.

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".

In an e-mail to officers, seen by The Impartial Rep2orter newspaper, Mr Todd said 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.”

Mr Todd added: “In order to assist me, in my role of continuing to quality assure our approach, review issues and report progress to key stakeholders, I am introducing a short term, 48 hour measure, to assist in our reporting and policy development.

“For the 48 hours – commencing 0700 hrs Thu 23 April 2020, 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.

“As stated, this is a short term quality assurance and reporting measure and will likely only involve a relatively small number of cases where the ‘3Es’ have been ineffective and a requirement to comply has proved unsuccessful. This measure is for your strict compliance,” wrote Mr. Todd.

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.

There were 107 fines issued over three days across the Easter weekend, with officers breaking up barbecues and a small number of large house parties.

Mr Todd previously said the force’s approach will be engaging, explaining and encouraging the regulations before moving to enforcement.

Police received 3,787 reports about social distancing adherence in six days.

A number of the reports related to people allegedly not following guidance, rather than fully breaching the new regulations.

These were described as including a person jogging within two metres of another person or someone exercising more than once a day.

Belfast Telegraph