AVON and Somerset Police are establishing a dedicated team to attend reports of breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

The force using extra funding provided by the Government for forces to tackle the pandemic.

Approximately £680,000 has been granted to Avon and Somerset to fund the Covid-19 team.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson, of Avon and Somerset Police, said demand for non-Covid police matters had dropped during the national lockdown.

The intention of the team is to provide reassurance to those communities who adhere to the regulations, but also to help enforce when individuals flout the rules and place their communities at greater risk of the virus.

Launched on Monday, the team will be reacting quickly to incidents called in by the public and patrol areas highlighted by partner agencies and our own intelligence that present a threat to public health.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson said: “We are fortunate the number of COVID-19 cases in the South West are not as high as some other parts of the UK, but they are rising and we cannot afford to be complacent.

“The national lockdown in March and April meant demand for non-COVID police matters dropped and it freed up resourcing for us to have more officers out on the streets, working with our communities to help defeat the virus.

“However, the situation is different six months on, as demand for police attendance has increased to pre-lockdown levels. Officers have responded magnificently, but combining traditional policing priorities with additional COVID-19 work is a challenge for forces across the country.

“By creating this dedicated team, it will enable those officers to concentrate on dealing with reports coming in and proactively police areas where problems have previously occurred.”

Response and neighbourhood officers will continue to enforce COVID-19 rules where necessary, but the new team will allow the force to maintain a high level of service to its expected seasonal demand.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson added: “Our approach to policing COVID-19 breaches and issuing fines will not change.

"This team will continue to use our 4Es strategy to engage, explain and encourage people to following the guidance and adhere to the legislation when out and about.

“Enforcement remains our last resort, however we’re six months into this pandemic now and officers will issue fixed penalty notices when people refuse to comply or blatantly breach the regulations.”

“We’re grateful the overwhelming majority of people recognise the seriousness of the situation and are playing their part by complying with the restrictions. We want to continue working with our communities over what is likely to be a testing few months for everyone.”

Since lockdown was introduced in March, Avon and Somerset Police have issued 413 fixed penalty notices, including 37 since the start of October.