Published on 31st March 2020

People across Cheshire are being praised for their community spirit in helping to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The majority of residents appear to be following the new regulations that have now been in place for almost five days in a bid to save lives and protect the NHS.

Chief Constable Darren Martland said: “It is really encouraging to see so many people in Cheshire being supportive, listening to the advice, taking it on board and staying at home where they can. I would like to say thank you to everyone who is helping to play their part in the national effort.

“This is an unprecedented public health emergency and we are all having to make adjustments to the new measures, which are in place.

“We appreciate the difficulties and uncertainties that we are all facing. It is important to remember that this is something none of us have ever experienced before. We are all learning and, by the very nature of what we are dealing with and the fast pace of it, inevitably we will not always get things right as we get to grips with the circumstances.

“Our aim is always to engage with people, explain the reasons behind the new regulations, encourage them to take it on board and support the people we serve to ensure that everyone is fully complying with these restrictions and this is the message I am giving to my officers.

“Sadly, there have been a small number of cases when members of the public have refused and in such cases we may have to take enforcement action against those individuals involved.

“We police by consent, maintaining public confidence and caring for our communities is paramount so enforcement will always be a last option.”

There have been a number of cases across the county where members of the public have deliberately coughed in the faces of police officers, claiming to be infected with Coronavirus.

Yesterday (Monday 30 March) a 31-year-old man from Nantwich was jailed for eight months for deliberately spitting and coughing in the face of a Cheshire police officer.

The incident took place on Friday night in Maplins Moss Place, Crewe, as officers tried to arrest the man for being drunk and disorderly.

He was verbally abusive towards them before coughing and spitting in their faces.

There have also been a handful of other incidents of a similar nature.

Chief Constable Martland added: “This type of behaviour is disgraceful. Our officers are working in really challenging circumstances. They are putting their own lives and the lives of their families at risk on a daily basis. I want to acknowledge all police officers and police staff, who alongside other emergency workers, NHS staff and other key workers, are working on the frontline – they are doing outstanding work in exceptionally hard times.

“Our policing style in Cheshire is defined by our neighbourhood policing model, where officers, PCSOs and members of the Special Constabulary work to protect our communities and provide vital reassurance.

“This model, which has served us well and will continue, has enabled critical relationships to be developed with the public and our partners.

“We have been given extraordinary powers in an extraordinary situation, powers we would not normally wish to have, but I’d like to thank the public for helping and supporting us. We police with the consent of the communities we serve, so a positive relationship with those communities is of huge importance to us.”

Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane added: “Cheshire police officers are carrying out a very difficult job in particularly difficult circumstances so it’s great to see that the majority of our communities are complying by these new measures to keep us safe.

“It is also essential that the new policing measures are enforced proportionately and I am continuing to work closely with the Chief Constable to seek assurances that the policing measures used closely follow the new government legislation.

“These new measures have been put in place for a very good reason, to protect our communities, save lives and to relive pressure on our wonderful NHS, and I would encourage you all to follow them.”

The new public health regulations, which came into force on Thursday 26 March, have been introduced to ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel – unless for one of the following reasons:
• 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
• Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
• Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home

Participating in gatherings of more than two people in public spaces is also not permitted except in very limited circumstances, for example, where it is for essential work purposes.

Full details of the measures are available here http://orlo.uk/wogej