The vast majority of the public have come together, followed the law and helped to prevent the spread of this virus. Our police forces face unprecedented challenges right now in terms of maintaining public order, but they have been working exceptionally throughout this crisis and have done so with a great deal of determination.
My right hon. Friend may well be aware that, while our police forces such as in Lincolnshire have been checking in with pubs and policing the 10 pm curfew, for example, in Lincoln, other crimes are still continuing and on the rise in some cases. What steps are being taken to ensure that our police forces do not take their eyes off the day job?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I praise his local police force in Lincoln for the outstanding work that they are doing and have been doing throughout coronavirus. He raises an important point about additional help and support. He will be well aware of the additional £30 million that has gone to local police forces across the country to really assist them in tackling the root causes, keeping on top of crime prevention and going after the criminals, but, specifically with coronavirus, going after the egregious breaches while also working with the community on the principles of the four Es— engage, explain, encourage, enforce—and encouraging people to comply.
While I much regret that we are having another lockdown, Essex police are doing a brilliant job under challenging circumstances. Will my right hon. Friend please spell out again what the powers are to enforce social distancing and to stop illegal gatherings such as those happening too often in Old Leigh in my constituency?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I think I can stand with him with a degree of conviction and praise Essex police for the outstanding work that they have been doing. I was with the chief constable just over a week ago. My hon. Friend asks about the powers that the police have. The regulations and the guidance are very clear in terms of police powers on fines and going after individuals who are breaching the covid regulations with egregious activities such as mass gatherings. We have seen the £10,000 fines being used very effectively, and in Essex as well.