People who ignore coronavirus restrictions should be prepared to “face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement”, police have warned.
The chief constables of five forces in the north-west of England have said in an open letter that they will “collectively target” the minority of people who break the rules by holding large gatherings, music events and parties.
Their words come just days before tougher restrictions are brought in across England in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The senior officers, from the forces covering Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, said their forces had taken a “very measured” approach to enforcement and used a model of “engage, explain, encourage and only as a last resort, enforce”.
“Sadly we have seen a minority right across the North West who seem incapable of demonstrating any civic responsibility and complying with regulations.”
They said the public wanted a “consistent and robust” approach to enforcement and that the introduction of local restrictions had seen forces take a “firmer stance” over restrictions and move more quickly to issue fixed penalty notices.
They wrote: “We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives.
“To the minority who feel the restrictions don’t apply to them be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement.
“We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions such as self-isolating where necessary.
“Where we have issued fixed penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them.
“We are therefore seeking support from government and the judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly.”
On Tuesday the UK reported 397 people had died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, the highest number since May.
There were also 20,018 new COVID-19 cases, compared with 18,950 on the previous day.