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PSNI will enforce laws on social distancing once Executive agrees extent of powers, says chief constable

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PACEMAKER BELFAST  26/03/2020
PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne during a  media briefing  in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Thursday.
Photo Colm Lenaghan /Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/03/2020 PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne during a media briefing in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Thursday. Photo Colm Lenaghan /Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/03/2020 PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne during a media briefing in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Thursday. Photo Colm Lenaghan /Pacemaker Press

Chief Constable Simon Byrne says the PSNI will be enforcing the laws around social distancing once the Executive agrees what those will be.

He was speaking alongside Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, at today’s Covid-19 press conference at Stormont Castle.

Mr Byrne added that only four custody centres are now in operation in Northern Ireland to enhance social distancing.

“You won’t see vehicle checks to stop people moving around Northern Ireland but clearly, if people don't heed the prudent advice from health about social distance and movement, we have got to keep all our options open to protect the public and to protect the integrity of the health service so they can continue to treat people,” he stated.

Mr Byrne also said that people have been charged with coughing at police officers and from Monday the PSNI, along with the Public Prosecution Service, will be launching a “nine-point plan” to give officers more support if they have been coughed at or assaulted while on duty.

“I know from commentary both today and before this, there'll be a lot of interest in how we as a police service may want to use new powers to support the efforts around social distancing,” he continued.

“I think it’s important to stress that discretion and common sense remain at the heart of policing and like the other organisations in Great Britain we will be adopting a four-point approach to use new powers that come from the Executive.

“Patrolling officers will be told to engage with the public, explain what their new powers are, to encourage people to adopt them and go home or to stop their work.

“Equally, if we have to we will enforce the law once the new powers are with us and are made clear.”

Belfast Telegraph