You may have seen on the news, or even experienced, police using new powers to disperse public gatherings and ask people to go home if they are staying out in a public place. What is the new law and what does it mean for young people?
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 ('the Regulations') came into force on 26 March 2020 and the government has imposed this law due to the significant and serious threat of coronavirus on the public. Their purpose is to save lives by protecting the public and the NHS from being overwhelmed with too many cases at once.
They include powers to direct parents/guardians/carers to ensure a child complies with these key measures and the police are asking that adults ensure their children comply with the government request. However, you as a young person have the ability to make responsible, informed choices at this time so we are asking all young people to follow the measures and want to inform you of what can happen if you don't.
Stay at home, unless:
• shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
• one form of exercise a day - for example, a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of their household
If you are outside your premises without reasonable excuse, the police can:
• direct you to return to the place where you are living
• remove you to the place where you are living and, if necessary, use reasonable force to do this
• Police will instruct gatherings of three or more people to disperse or direct or remove any person from that gathering to their home.
The police will initially engage with young people, explain the legislation and encourage them to comply with it. They will stress the risk to the NHS and public health. However, they will enforce the legislation if necessary.
Also, normal police powers still apply and can be used where crime is being committed.
You may have a lot of questions about what the new legislation is, what powers it gives the police and how those powers will be used. The police national lnstagram channel @police.uk.insta for young people is a helpful place to start and is full of useful information about keeping yourself safe, as well as the coronavirus lockdown rules.
The police also say:
'Young people are going to find aspects of this lack of freedom particularly challenging. Arguably, without school to attend, they will spend more time online. So there is an increase in the chances they will see something which isn't intended for them or be contacted by someone they don't know. Please be aware of what your child is viewing and who your child is speaking to online. For advice for you and your child on how to keep safe online or to report concerns, please click here.'
Thank you to all of you for supporting the public and those on the front line at this time. It will require patience but it is a small sacrifice to make to ensure the vulnerable are protected.