SIXTEEN people have been arrested and charged by police for breaking coronavirus rules, but not one fine has been handed out.

As part of the lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus, Boris Johnson has ordered people to only leave their homes under a list of ‘very limited purposes’ like getting to work if they have to or going shopping to get vital supplies.

Thames Valley Police officers have been on patrol cracking-down on non-essential journeys by asking people where they are going.

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Under the new coronavirus Act, officers can hand out fines and make arrests if somebody doesn’t have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for being outside.

Now the chief constable of the force, John Campbell, has revealed that 16 people have been arrested for flouting the rules – but no fines have been given out. 

He said: “I’m not aware of us issuing any fines, we’re going for an approach where we are engaging with the public and explaining what the new legislation requires, encouraging people who are breaching that legislation but where we have a small minority of the public that are not going to comply we are going to be enforcing.

“At the moment we have made a number of arrests in relation to breaches of the coronavirus legislation and 16 people have been charged across the Thames Valley in respect of those breaches.

“An awful lot is around people not having a reasonable excuse but also being involved in criminality as part of their behaviours.”

He explained that there are three different groups of people: people who stay at home and follow the government rules, others who are ‘thoughtless’ and need to be told again, and a third group who will actively try and break the law.

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He also said that Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) would be reserved as a ‘last resort’ for the third group of people – who are ‘wilfully noncompliant’.

FPNs cost £60 but are reduced to £30 if they are paid quickly. If somebody re-offends or is spotted in the same place again by the police, another fixed penalty notice of £120 will be issued – doubling for each repeat offence.

He said: “The FPN are one part of that enforcement but obviously a last resort, relatively new but we will issue where we need to and we will arrest where we need to because this is too important an issue for us not to be enforcing where members of the public won’t comply.”

Earlier in the week, a man from Dorchester-upon-Thames was jailed for 22 weeks after he attacked a woman and then deliberately coughed on a police officer’s face.

In some parts of the country police officers have been slammed for being heavy-handed and not making the right call in enforcing the rules.

But Mr Campbell said that TVP officers had been told to use their ‘common sense’, adding: “In society in general, there is some misunderstanding of what those rules are, and that’s settling down now.”

The head of the police also hinted at less pressure on the emergency service.

He said: “What we have seen is that some of the behaviours of the public have led to a change in some of the traditional calls we would usually get.

“So there is a night-time economy, pubs and clubs, which are obviously very busy for us. People are now in their homes, and off the roads as well.”

He went on to say that people should still call the police if they need to in an emergency, adding: “But I am also mindful of the fact that some people are now not contacting us in traditional ways, they are going online. That helps us cope with demand.”