Humberside Police Chief Constable, Lee Freeman says that officers and staff will continue to work with communities to support them to do the right thing in the coming days and weeks.
However, current and future legislation to be passed this week, means that the force will enforce the new government rules if they have to.
Mr Freeman said: “The Government’s announcement in moving from issuing guidelines to rules, means that policing has a role to play in engaging with communities as well as ultimately enforcing social distancing and social isolation if members of the public fail to follow what is being asked of them.
“Whilst we await more detail regarding the new legislation which will be passed this week, our approach will be to continue to engage with, and advise anyone who is not following the rules. These rules are here to save lives and protect the NHS’s ability to treat people with COVID 19 and other acute conditions. It is critical that we ensure that this happens.
“If, after all our advice, engagement and instructions, some people continue to place others at risk, we will use our powers under dispersal orders legislation, the issuing of fixed penalty notices and ultimately consider prosecution in order to save lives. These options will become available in the coming days.
“However, our aim is not to criminalise anyone and I am optimistic that everyone is beginning to understand the emerging risks and how they can help reduce the spread of the virus by following the rules announced last night.
“So, I ask everyone across Hull, East Riding and Northern Lincolnshire to do the right thing and please adhere to the Government guidelines.
“This way, we will not need to use the powers available to us, unless there is an exceptional need, and my police officers and police staff can continue to focus on protecting the vulnerable and keeping people safe.”