THE chief superintendent of West Mercia Police says officers will not shy away from using new enforcement powers to protect communities.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said today he believes the public will work with the police to help support the NHS in their response to coronavirus, but said officers will "direct, fine and arrest" those breaching Government measures if necessary.

He also warned drivers to expect random stop checks by police to ensure their journey abides by the new lockdown rules.

Chief Superintendent Harding said: “There is no doubt we are entering a critical phase to our policing response to Covid-19 and we are currently working to focus our resources towards our frontline response.

"I’m confident our communities will work with us and we will support them by educating and guiding where we can.

"We’re engaging with business and individuals - the majority of whom are respecting the new rules to protect themselves and their families. However, a small minority have been advised and dispersed. The advice is simple - stay home, save lives.

“I’m really pleased to see the majority of people are now listening to government’s request for us to limit non-essential movement as this is helping to support the work of the NHS."

He added: "For the minority who think it’s still okay to ignore the warnings, then we won’t shy aware from using our enforcement powers to protect our communities. We will direct, fine and arrest if necessary.

“We will also be out speaking with the public and conducting roads policing checks which will involve randomly stopping people to make sure their journey are within the rules.

“This global pandemic is a national emergency and I am sure we will all work together to help protect the elderly, the vulnerable and those most at risk in our communities. By following the national advice we can all help to make a difference.”

Chief Superintendent Harding said officers are also practising social distancing.

Today, police in England were given the power to enforce rules on staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel, which includes an initial £60 fine - reduced to £30 if it is paid within 14 days, arrests, and steps to make sure parents are stopping their children from breaking the rules.