Police can tell people to leave a property if breaking new lockdown rules

Police in England can tell people to leave someone’s home if they are breaching new lockdown rules but cannot make them leave, according to guidance issued to forces.

Gatherings of up to six people can now take place outdoors, for example in open spaces or in private gardens.

But laws which came into force on Monday banned people from staying overnight anywhere other than the place where they are living.

Any indoor gatherings of two or more people are also prohibited unless they are members of the same household or fall under a short list of exceptions to the rule.

A document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing said: “From June 1 2020, the approach to restrictions has changed.

“Rather than requiring a reasonable excuse to leave the place where a person is living, there are specific things that members of the public cannot do.

“A person may now leave and remain outside of the place where they live for any reason, subject to restrictions on gatherings and overnight stays.”

The guidance issued to officers on powers they have to police overnight stays said: “You may only direct a person to return home.

“There are no powers in the Regulations to remove someone or use force.

“Fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) and arrest still apply, where appropriate.”

The document also points out the laws put in place “provide no power of entry” and last week Downing Street said police did not have the power to enter gardens to check numbers.

Although officers still have existing powers at their disposal to gain entry to a property where they suspect illegal activity to be taking place.

In public places “direction, removal and/or use of force can still be used”, the guidance said, adding: “If you are lawfully in a private place you can only direct a prohibited gathering to disperse, or any person in the gathering to return home.

“FPNs and arrest still apply, where appropriate.”

Previously police chiefs told officers they have no powers to enforce the Government guidance on two-metre social distancing.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Personal responsibility is key as we all enjoy these new freedoms.

“Ensure you understand the remaining restrictions, which are different in England and Wales.

“Think carefully about where you are going, how you will be able to keep your distance from others and continue to wash your hands. 

“Keep in mind the purpose of the regulations, to prevent the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

“Police officers will still have a role if people are breaching regulations in place in England and Wales. 

“We will continue to use common sense and discretion. 

“Officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.”

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