Coronavirus: Transport police ready to dish out fines and dispersal orders to people disobeying travelling restrictions

BRITISH Transport Police (BTP) deployed 500 officers on Tuesday night as it stepped up efforts to prevent unnecessary travel during the coronavirus outbreak - with the authority to soon be empowered to dish out fines and dispersal orders to those disobeying measures.

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 2:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 5:15 pm

The move came following prime minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown declaration to the nation on Monday.

Officers were enforcing the new stringent measures by making sure that commuters were only making essential trips for work.

Sean O’Callaghan, assistant chief constable at BTP, said: ‘The measures announced by the prime minister are there to save lives which is part of the work our officers do every day.

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British Transport Police patrolling. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

‘We are supporting rail operators and those key workers making their journeys home by deploying 500 officers across the rail network nationally. They will be patrolling stations, supporting railway staff and reminding the public of the urgent need to follow the government advice – only those making essential journeys for work should be using the tube and rail network.

‘We strongly urge the rest of the public to do the right thing and help us save lives by staying at home and slowing the spread of the virus.’

The measures are part of ongoing patrols across the network with officers ‘engaging with the public’.

But police will soon be able to impose restrictions. A spokeswoman for BTP said: ‘The legislation that will give police powers to fine and disperse people is still going through parliament.

‘Our current approach is assisting rail staff and engaging with the public to persuade them of the urgent advice not to travel unless absolutely necessary.’

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The move comes after Mr Johnson ordered the closure of all but essential shops and banned gatherings for three weeks in an effort to tackle the spread of the virus, also known as Covid-19.

Schools, bars and restaurants had already been shut down with people urged to stay home - but many people defied the government’s guidance on social distancing.