COVID-19 FAQs

With the current situation regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are living in unprecedented times. With this in mind, we have pulled together some of the more commonly asked questions you might have.

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Please visit GOV.UK/coronavirus for the latest official guidance and announcements.

We are also eager to remind victims of domestic abuse that you are not alone. If you need support and advice, please visit our domestic abuse help page.

Tourism and second homes

We are working with our partners to ensure we have one clear, consistent message for the public – do not travel to Dorset.

Day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted. However, we urge you to please stay at home and do not undertake travel that isn’t essential.

Leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home for a holiday is not allowed.

Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work.

Leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home for a holiday is not allowed. If this matter is reported to the police via 101, police have the option to visit the property in question.

Our overall aim continues to see officers engage, educate and encourage people to comply with government guidance. Officers will engage with individuals travelling to second homes and persuade them to return to their primary residence by reference to these governance guidelines.

Fixed penalty notices are an option available to officers as travelling and staying at a second home is not a reasonable excuse for being outside of the home. Officers will only enforce as a last resort.

Second home owners may attend their property for the purposes of maintenance or security, but should not remain in the property overnight. Officers will use their judgement and discretion on this matter.

Leaving your home – the place you live – for a holiday is not allowed.

Officers will seek to engage, educate and encourage individuals travelling in campervans and persuade them to return to their primary residence by reference to the Government guidance.

Fixed penalty notices are an option available to officers as a holiday is not a reasonable excuse for being outside of the home. Officers will only enforce as a last resort.

Travel

The Government's position remains that everyone who can work from home should do so. You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.

At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows coronavirus symptoms. You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating.

The Government has given advice for different scenarios as an example of how social distancing and other measures might be implemented in England.

You can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms. No work should be carried out by someone who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or when someone in their own household has symptoms.

Read more about working in people’s homes as a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny on GOV.UK.

Yes. The restrictions are in place to help us stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and avoiding public transport is a sensible measure. However you choose to travel, be sure to wash your hands when you reach your destination.

Yes. However, you should cycle or walk wherever possible. Before you travel on public transport, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. 

The Government will be setting out further guidance for passengers with more advice on how to stay safe during your journeys later this week.

Please check with your local transport provider before setting out on any journeys as they may have updated their timetables and be running fewer services.

Read more about using public transport.

As always, police officers will use their discretion when considering whether or not to enforce the law, taking personal situations into account.

From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by six months. This is being done to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Vehicles that were due an MOT before 30 March are subject to different guidance.

You must make sure your vehicle is safe to drive (‘roadworthy’). It can be unsafe even if your MOT expiry date has been extended.

Further MOT information on GOV.UK

In general, leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home is not allowed.

If a student is moving permanently to live back at their family home, this is permitted.

Ask yourself whether it’s essential that both of you go. Sometimes it will be, for example if there is no one else available to look after a child.

It’s important that we all reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, so if you can go alone that will help cut down potential chances of contact with others.

When you are outside of the home, make sure you try to stay two metres (six feet) apart from anyone outside of your household.

If you normally share a vehicle with people from other households for essential journeys, we recommend you find a different way to travel. For example, consider walking, cycling or using separate vehicles if you can.

If you have to travel with people outside your household group, try to share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups of people at any one time. You should also consider wearing a face covering as recommended in recent Government advice.

Find more guidance around using private cars and other vehicles on GOV.UK.

People can now spend as much time outside as they want and there are no limits on travelling long distances.

If there are groups not of the same household, there may be still be a role for police – in engaging, explaining, encouraging and, only as a last resort, enforcing.

The following activities are not in the list of examples of reasonable excuses:

  • To go on holiday, this includes to visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
  • To visit the homes of friends and family (exceptions include to protect a vulnerable person, for medical purposes or to escape risk of harm).
  • Travelling to outdoor spaces in Wales and Scotland for recreation (not exercise) may result in offences being committed in those jurisdictions, and so may not be a reasonable excuse for leaving home.

Exercise and recreation

Yes. However, you should stay at home as much as possible.

You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance. You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing - for example by cycling.

The key to making this work for everyone in Dorset, and across the country, is for everyone to be reasonable.  If you can exercise locally near your home, please do so.

We enjoy the relationship we have with our communities and will continue to engage with people we meet, to provide reassurance and education at this challenging time.

There has been no guidance on the length of time allowed for daily exercise. As of Wednesday 13 May, you may exercise outdoors as often as you wish.

The NHS suggests that adults should aim to be physically active every day, doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.

Following the updates to Government guidance you can take part in watersports, including swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea. Indoor and outdoor public pools should still remain closed. Read more on the gov.uk website.

As the RNLI has stated (as at Wednesday 13 May) that as there are no lifeguards on our region’s beaches, it is not recommended that you take part in any water-based activities.

We would urge anyone planning a visit to the coast to follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Take care near cliffs - know your route and your limitations
  • Have a plan - check the weather forecast and tide times
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float
  • If individuals are choosing to go sailing or yachting it is important to ensure that equipment is properly checked and serviceable before going afloat.

In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Following the updates to Government guidance you can take part in watersports, including surfing. Read more on the GOV.UK website.

As the RNLI has stated (as at Wednesday 13 May) that as there are no lifeguards on our region’s beaches, it is not recommended that you take part in any water-based activities.

Our emergency services are already stretched and should a lifeboat crew be called to an incident in the water, it would put unnecessary pressure on our volunteers and other front line services being exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Following the updates to Government guidance you can take part in watersports, including canoeing, kayaking and paddle-boarding. Read more on the GOV.UK website.

British Canoeing, the national governing body for canoeing in the United Kingdom, has issued this statement (correct at Thursday 14 May):

“We recommend that members continue to follow the government and public health guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible. We also want to remind members that if you or anyone within your household has coronavirus symptoms, you should continue to self-isolate.

“Whilst we understand the temptation to drive to your favourite paddling place, we urge our members and all paddlers to paddle locally, to take extra care and to paddle responsibly.”

Read the latest advice on the British Canoeing website.

Yes. The Angling Trust have prepared guidance on how to get fishing again safely. This guidance should be followed by all anglers, clubs, fisheries, coaches and guides.

Competition fishing is not permitted – current advice still prohibits organised gatherings.

Visit the Angling Trust’s Angling Support Hub for more information.

Yes, you are able to visit your horses and ride them for exercise. Please ensure you are adhering to social distancing measures, including keeping two metres apart from people outside of your household. Good hygiene is still very important to stop the spread of the virus and you should remember to wash your hands before and after contact with any animals.

If you have a horse in full livery, you must not visit them whilst you are self-isolating. You should contact your yard manager or vet to make suitable welfare arrangements. If you are too unwell to care for your animals and there is no one to help, you should call your local authority.

The British Horse Society is regularly updating advice for those who own a horse.

Yes. DEFRA has defined bees as livestock, which conveys a duty of care on beekeepers to maintain hives and generally go about their business of making sure that their bees are safe and healthy. This means that travel undertaken to discharge this duty is deemed reasonable under Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 legislation.

You should follow Public Health guidance on social distancing. Everyone, including beekeepers, should avoid gatherings of more than two people and this includes at your apiary. You should maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) between yourself and others to limit the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

If you are not registered with BeeBase, or have apiaries that are not registered, then please visit www.nationalbeeunit.com.

Read the full guidance from the British Beekeepers Association.

As of Wednesday 13 May, the public are able to spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing. This should be alone, with members of your household or with no more than one person outside of your household whilst adhering so social distancing measures. Read more on the GOV.UK website.

You should still stay at home as much as possible. 

The public should show civic duty and common sense and follow social distancing guidelines, which protect the NHS and will save lives.

Police give guidance on the Government advice, but only enforce the law. They also must do so with common sense and proportionality based on the particular situation, their engagement with the individual and always keeping in mind the purpose of regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.

From Wednesday 13 May, The Canal and River Trust have stated:

"Private boaters may undertake short boating trips – avoiding use of locks and any staff-operated structures if possible – providing, as per current government guidance, they do not stay away from home overnight and return to their home mooring (where they have one)."

Our emergency services are already stretched and should a rescue crew be called to an incident in the water, it would put unnecessary pressure on volunteers and other front line services being exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Residents of harbour islands may need to use watercraft to visit shops or to have medical treatment, and in these cases the boat may be considered a mode of transport. Any journey should be as direct as is reasonably possible taking into account navigational requirements and safe boating best practice.

If your boat is your primary residence then this is where you must stay during the current lockdown period. This is only if you do not have a residential property elsewhere – a residence on land should take primacy over a boat.

Commercial marine entities who cannot work from home, for example commercial fishing, pilot boats, marina boat transportation operations, are able to continue operating and any travel related to this should be strictly for work purposes.

From Wednesday 13 May you are allowed to take unlimited exercise outside, lone, with your household, or with one person who is not in your household as long as you stay two metres apart.

Daily life

Although many businesses are closed, you can still attend funerals where the congregation is immediate family. A carer can also attend if required or a friend if there are no family members attending.

You should still keep two metres (six feet) between every household group.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, are responsible for enforcing regulations requiring businesses, such as pubs, cinemas, theatres and casinos, to close.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards can issue prohibition notices where businesses do not follow these restrictions. In addition, businesses who fail to comply can also receive fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses.

Under the Business Closure regulations introduced on 21 March 2020, officers will have powers to prosecute for breach of regulations.

The local authority environmental health and trading standards officers are responsible for enforcing the regulations requiring businesses such as pubs, cinemas and theatres to close.

You can report businesses that you believe should not be open to:

 

Anyone who wishes to move home can now do so. Guidance on ensuring that moving, and key activities such as house viewings, can happen safely can be found on GOV.UK.

The rules have been designed to protect people, not to catch people out. Our approach is to engage, explain and encourage people to comply with the rules, and proof may not be deemed necessary.

If gatherings of people are asked to disperse, officers may also make reasonable judgement as to whether these people are part of one household. For example, a group of six teenagers are unlikely to all live together, whereas two adults and two children are most likely to be from the same household. Of course, we appreciate that this is not demonstrative of all households and there may be exceptions to this, but reasonable judgement must be applied.

The new regulations state “children who do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents, to continue existing arrangement for access to, and contact between, parents and children”.

Any existing visitation arrangements that are in place can continue.

Work carried out by tradespeople can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

It will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre (six feet) distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

You can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms. No work should be carried out by someone who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or when someone in their own household has symptoms.

Read more about working in people’s homes as a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny on GOV.UK.

Professional dog walkers: You would be able to continue to offer this service as long as you are able to implement social distancing measures.

Volunteer dog walkers for vulnerable people: You may leave your house to provide care or help to a vulnerable person. This includes walking a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house because they are self-isolating or being shielded. You should wash your hands before and after handling the dog and keep two metres (six feet) away from other people and animals, including when picking up or returning the dog to the owner.

There is more information for people with animals on GOV.UK.

Yes. If you have livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, or poultry you can continue to care for them and have a duty to do so.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange for someone else who is not self-isolating to care for your animals. Where this is not possible you should ensure the basic needs of your animals are met. If you are too unwell to care for your animals and there is no one to help, you should call your local authority.

There is more information for people with animals on GOV.UK.

No. On the 23 March, the Government had the difficult decision to close all places of worship to help protect the NHS and save lives. This is an unprecedented public health emergency and an unprecedented national effort to fight this virus.

National leaders for all faiths in the UK are supporting the Government’s decision and have provided guidance to worshipers of practical ways they can support their communities and demonstrate their faith whilst the places of worship remain closed.

Religious ministers or leaders can leave their homes to go to their place of worship, but these should remain closed to the public.

If officers see place of worship open, they will remind both the leader and worshippers of the Government advice. We will engage, explain and encourage those worshippers to return home. We don’t expect to need to use enforcement action.

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) regulations allow for deliveries of orders that are placed during the lockdown period, where those orders have been made online, by telephone or by text.

The regulations do not make specific mention of the delivery of orders that were placed prior to the lockdown; however these deliveries should be permitted in the same way.

If at all possible, you should avoid moving house.

However, there may be some situations where moving is the best option. This could include households where a key worker is isolating away from the main family and additional childcare is needed, where vulnerable people require support that they are unable to receive from volunteers or neighbours or where you need to leave an abusive situation.

Once you have moved, you should avoid doing so again until the restrictions have been lifted.

Following the updates to Government guidance, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) are advising (as at Wednesday 13 May) that deer staking, pest control, conservation and seasonal work on game shoots are possible as long as they are legal and in adherence to the social distancing measures. More information can be found on the BASC website.

If you are required to go shooting for the above reasons, please be sure to email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or call 101 in advance, with details of:

  • Who (names of all people attending, vehicle registrations and contact numbers)
  • Where (land it will take place on)
  • What and why (e.g. fox shooting for livestock protection)
  • How (firearm used, whether lamp, thermal or both)
  • Time (start and finish)

Facilities associated with outdoor sports and physical activities, including shooting ranges, can now reopen if those responsible for them feel ready to do so and if they can do so safely, and in line with related public health guidance.

It is still very important that people stay home unless necessary to go out for specific reasons set out in law. This includes going to shops that are permitted to be open – to get things like food and medicine, and to collect goods ordered online or on the phone.

Officers will not go through people’s shopping to ensure that everything they are buying is classed as a basic necessity. Our style continues to be one of engagement with the public, with enforcement being a last resort. The vast majority of the public have shown a true community effort in adhering to the Government’s restrictions and we would like to thank you for your continued support.

Hardware shops are included on the Government’s list of shops that can remain open during lockdown.

However, you should still minimise the amount of time spent outside your home and follow any social distancing measures put in place by businesses to protect their staff and customers.

While we know this is a difficult and frustrating time for many small business owners, indoor fitness studios, gyms, or other indoor leisure centres or facilities must remain closed under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

We are sure many in the community will welcome the reopening of the recycling centres. Local authorities along with site operators are responsible for ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to manage demand, access, traffic management, social distancing and any disputes with users. We would expect any high-demand to be managed as it normally would during busy periods such as bank holiday weekends.

Local forces will continue to respond to appropriate calls for service by site operators and those visiting sites, but will not assist with the routine management of sites. It is reasonable for people to leave home to take their bulk rubbish to those centres where the material cannot be stored safely at home or disposes of through other legitimate routes. The police should not be called to determine what is and is not a legitimate trip to a recycling centre.

Please check your local authority’s website for details around opening dates and times.

No. The responsibility for the management of these sites, including traffic and access management, is with local authorities.

The public are reminded that they must not obstruct the highway and remember that emergency service vehicles including police, fire and ambulance may need to pass through the area in an emergency.

The police will respond to calls from the public as usual. Those that have been the victim of a crime, or are in situations where a crime is in progress, should contact the police as usual.

We trust the public to be honest with us and to continue engaging with us positively, as they have been to date - but of course officers will be inquisitive where necessary.

Everyone has a responsibility and a civic duty in respecting the terms of this lockdown. Thousands have tragically lost their lives, and we would expect a degree of maturity from the public in continuing to observe the new rules. Most have been very sensible, and we thank them for the personal sacrifices they’re making.

We won’t start counting households – that isn’t practical or a good use of our time. But where we see clear breaches, we will act appropriately.

No, that’s Government guidance not regulations.  People need to take individual responsibility for following the guidance.

Crime

Yes, we have already seen some instances of fraudsters taking advantage of the situation with reports of telephone scamming and phishing emails.

We are working to ensure the public have the information they need so they are not caught out by opportunistic thieves/scammers.

Phishing emails: There have been reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details. Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

Shopping online: If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service - report@phishing.gov.uk - which will make it easy for the public to forward suspicious emails to the NCSC – including those claiming to offer services related to coronavirus.

Report other sorts of scam to the national policing hub Action Fraud.

In both cases, reporting scams and suspicious communications is important, as every piece of information received helps to build an intelligence picture of criminals who would capitalise on the coronavirus lockdown, and thus helps national poking services to shut them down.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk immediately.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk immediately.

Fraudsters constantly revise and vary the way they work to defraud people. We will periodically update the following information with new and emerging scam trends.

Fraud trends as of 06/05/2020

Zoom and other video conferencing apps

The National Crime Agency is leading and coordinating the UK’s response to Zoom video conferences being interrupted by indecent images of children, with police forces conducting their own investigations.

NCA spokesperson said: “Our role includes understanding whether the IP addresses used and the horrific images shared are the same.

“This will enable the NCA to identify links between offences and coordinate investigations. If any of these images are brand new, the NCA’s specialist victim identification team will help forces identify and protect the children involved."

Advice from the NCA about using Zoom and other video conferencing apps and platforms:

Social media should not be used to share conference links or passwords; participants should be verified before being allowed to join a meeting; the ability for participants to join a meeting before the host should be disabled; the host should be the only person able to share material and the meeting should be locked to prevent unauthorised access.

Courier fraud

Action Fraud reports that 218 courier frauds have occurred nationally during lockdown with losses of £417,715. We are running a series of advisories on our Facebook page which we would encourage you to read and to pass on to relatives, friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable but who may not see our advice on social media.

Phishing

Selling or giving away face masks accounted for over a quarter of the total phishing (fraudulent attempts to obtain your personal or banking details) reports received during the last 24 hours. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Payment fraud

Fraudsters are incorporating the coronavirus pandemic into push payment frauds and using the outbreak to convince victims to speak with the suspect on the phone, saying the banks are closed etc.

Protect yourself

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.

They can contact you by phone, email, text, on social media, or in person. They will try to trick you into parting with your money, personal information, or buying goods or services that don’t exist.

If you are approached unexpectedly remember to:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
  • You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
  • The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
  • Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

To keep yourself secure online, ensure you are using the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phones, tablets and laptops. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you don’t have to worry.

More advice from the professionals

Visit the National Cyber Security Centre website to find out more. You can also read the National Cyber Security Centre’s Small Business Guide: Cyber Security for more advice on how to keep your business secure online.Detailed counter fraud advice is available online, including from Scamsmart, CIFAS, TakeFive, Citizens Advice and Trading Standards.

There is bespoke advice about COVID-19 fraud on the Action Fraud website. Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040

Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599. Check HMRC-related phishing, or bogus, emails or text messages against examples published on GOV.UK

Being a good neighbour is important, and communities are rallying around to support each other. However, there may be those who seek to exploit the situation also.

Volunteers working with the health and emergency services will be in possession of the necessary DBS arrangements before commencing placements and will be assigned to roles where indemnity cover is in place. They should all have documentation proving their status.

Community volunteering to provide assistance to those most vulnerable in meeting their daily needs will also be likely in the coming months. If people have doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don’t engage and report serious suspicious behaviour to police. The majority of groups are well intentioned, and will be working through charities or through a local authority and should have proof that they are doing so.

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website. Theft offences should be reported using our online channels.

There are no crime types that we would no longer respond to and the police will NOT stop arresting people. Each contact to the police for help will be risk assessed. Priority of response will be given to maintaining public order, situations of violence or where life is in danger and where a very vulnerable person is involved. We’re asking the public to be patient as we may take more time to follow up report relating to lower-level crimes.

As a result of social-distancing regulations, it is likely that forces will see a shift in crime patterns – this includes online offences and fraud. As always, we will prioritise available resources from the areas where demand was previously high (such as the night-time economy) to the areas which need it now.

Yes, sadly this is likely with more people staying at home and isolated from other friends and family. We are currently running a campaign to raise awareness of this issue so please keep an eye on our social media channels.

Domestic abuse is considered a serious crime and the police service is committed to the safety of victims and children during this time of crisis. We want you to seek and receive appropriate support when you need it.

If you or your children are in immediate danger, you should call 999. You can get help and support on our website or access the national domestic abuse helpline or support services online.

In Dorset we have not seen an increase in hate crime. However we know hate crime and incidents can be under-reported and Dorset Police is encouraging victims to come forward in confidence either directly to the police, to supporting agencies or through third party reporting centres.

If you are a victim or witness of a hate crime or incident, please report it online. Alternatively if you wish to speak to someone call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can get in touch in the following ways:

  • Emergency – SMS/text 80 999 or textphone 18000
  • Non-emergency – SMS/text 67101 or textphone/minicom 18001 101

For further reporting options, support and information, including easy read documents and reporting forms, visit: dorset.police.uk/hatecrime

Nationally there has been no increase in overall hate crime, however there has been a rise in hate crime directed towards Asian communities.

There is no doubt that video conferencing is becoming more and more popular, whether for business or to connect with friends and family.

Some devices have video conferencing built in, such as Apple’s FaceTime, and there are many other standalone video conferencing apps which you can download such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and others.

We have put together a guide to staying secure when using these apps and we encourage you to share it with your friends and family or employees: dorset.police.uk/video-conferencing

Please follow the Dorset Cyber Protect team on Facebook @DorsetPoliceCyberCrime and Twitter @DP_CyberCrime the latest updates.

Visit the National Cyber Security Centre website for further guidance on video conferencing.

As things slowly return back to normal, yes, we would expect to see a return of things we have come to experience in the past. Ultimately, any changes to regulations from now will mean more people are out and about. We are ready to meet any increase in demand, at whatever pace it comes. As ever, we ask the public to stay vigilant, and keep reporting crime to us.

Police response to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

There is a power of arrest under the new legislation, which will we will use as a last resort. Our approach will be to maintain our education and engagement approach to persuade individuals to comply with the direction set by Government rather than having to enforce it, as it is in all of our interests. However, if we are left with no other choice, we will arrest people if there is no other option and we have the lawful basis to do so.

Gatherings of more than two people are only permitted in very limited circumstances, such as if they are of the same household, if it is necessary for work purposes, to attend a funeral, and if it is reasonably necessary for some situations such as providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person. If you are concerned that you have seen a gathering which contravenes this guidance, we would encourage you to contact us if you believe there to be a substantial risk to people’s health within your community. We will then prioritise our resources to deal with the various incidents being reported.

Not if food is sold only for consumption away from its premises (which would include seating provided adjacent to the van for the consumption of food) and as long as it does not allow or encourage  a gathering of individuals contrary to the Regulations.

We are not anticipating a worst-case scenario, but like every other service, business or organisation; we have a plan to respond to issues caused by COVID-19.

We have tried and tested plans to respond to a situation like this, including redeploying officers to areas with a higher demand, scaling back non-urgent areas of policing and using the Special Constabulary.

In the worst case COVID-19 scenario, forces would need to focus on and prioritise emergencies and serious crimes.

Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) says it has put in place robust contingency plans. The police work closely with HMPPS and this will continue.

It’s too early to tell. Forces are keeping tabs on how much additional expenditure this outbreak could lead to. There is an established special grant process in place via the Home Office which forces may consider at a later date.

Our approach is consistent, to engage, explain, encourage and, only enforce as a last resort. The relatively small number of FPNs that have been issued is demonstration of the effectiveness of that approach. We are not asking for any further restrictions.

However, officers are doing a difficult job, at difficult times and there have been a small incidents where officers unintentionally have gone too far. In those cases we have corrected mistakes and clarified that they are following national guidelines.

Anyone who has received an FPN will be contacted by ACRO, the Criminal Records Office, in due course with guidance on how to pay.

The payment system is currently being set up. Individuals will be contacted by ACRO who will administer the payments to Local Authorities. If the fine is paid there will be no further action. If it is not paid or contested these will then be processed by the courts. 

Police officers are working well with Trading Standards and local authorities in relation to retail enforcements within the new regulations. Local authorities are really assisting us here and we are grateful to them. At this stage, we do not have data on prohibition numbers as it needs to be agreed with local government.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) are leading on the response to these attacks. Steve Rodhouse, NCA Director General (Operations), said, “There has been a series of recent arson attacks and cases of criminal damage to telecommunication masts.”

“These attacks have escalated across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The NCA is now leading the overarching response to this threat. We are working with law enforcement and industry partners to improve the intelligence picture, investigate the threat and ultimately, prevent future attacks.”

Every day, officers are out in communities, engaging with people, explaining the circumstances and encouraging people to do the right thing in complying with the government’s request for social distancing.

We encourage people to report to police concerns related to significant or serious breaches of new regulations.

Where absolutely necessary and as a last resort, we may take enforcement action if people are not listening and are putting others at risk.

Police officers and staff

Public Health England has published guidance to first responders and this has been circulated to all police forces for their officers and staff to follow.

In some scenarios, officers and staff will been issued with personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of work-related infection.

Additional PPE is NOT needed for routine policing activities and will not be worn unless dealing with a suspected Covid-19 case. Public Health additionally advises that it is NOT to be worn when dealing with contacts of suspected cases.

PPE which is to be worn when dealing with a person suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19 is:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Fluid repellent surgical face mask is recommended (if available)
  • Disposable plastic apron (if available)
  • Disposable eye protection (such as face visor or goggles)

We are working closely with the Government and PHE to manage supplies of PPE like gloves and masks. Questions around stocks of these should be directed to PHE and the Government. Regions are monitoring their stock levels and will redistribute resources where they need to in support of neighbouring areas falling short.

Where possible, police staff and officers on desk duties, who are not showing symptoms or feeling ill, will be asked to work from home.

Those who have symptoms and are unable to work, will stay at home and self-isolate.

Nationally, and locally we have tried and tested plans to respond to a situation like this. This may include the cancellation of rest days and leave.

We will not be sharing isolation rates, as these numbers will ebb and flow over the coming weeks. We are reassuring members of the public that we are coping well and that service continues as normal.

Our tried and tested business continuity procedures include plans to maintain a level of service that fulfils critical functions. With a significant loss of officers and staff, we will concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order.

Some non-urgent administrative services may experience delays, such as firearms applications, where, in line with Government advice our staff are not able to complete home visits, which are part of the application process. Other services of this nature may also be impacted.

We will ensure the public understand how any changes may affect them and any changes they need to make.

In order to continue providing core services to our communities in light of the pandemic, we need to maximise our use of volunteers to give us some extra assistance over the coming weeks. Forces will be asking Special Constables if they can volunteer more of their time with the support of their employer. In addition, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have called employers to release more than 10,000 Special Constables to support the police service in managing the impact of the Coronavirus.

We have also recently asked people who have previously worked for us if they would be willing to offer their services and skills, in some temporary capacity. This is a fast-changing environment and we are still working to define the critical services we may need.

Police officers have been issued with PPE, including face masks, where shaving is not required for their use. A small number of officers in certain specialist roles have masks that are specifically fitted that are not compatible with facial hair. This is not a new COVID-19-related provision. These officers are aware they will need to be clean-shaven if they need to use that equipment as part of their role. If this conflicts with any religious (or similar) restriction, we are working with officers to find appropriate alternatives.

We have taken all steps to produce the best possible guidance for our officers and staff. This has meant working closely with colleagues across government best placed to advise on PPE use.

We will ensure that police officers and staff have the best possible guidance at all times. As we have done, we will continue to respond to the advice of experts and make any changes to the guidance required as this global pandemic develops and changes.

The Government have made it clear that face masks and face coverings are different, stating:

"A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it."

Therefore, police PPE supply remains unaffected by the face-covering announcement.

Day-to-day police work

Yes. The safety and welfare of local communities remains our top priority.

Members of the public should continue to call 999 in an emergency where a crime is in progress or there is a threat to life.

If your call is not urgent and can be reported using our online channels, we ask you to do so in order to release the pressure on our emergency lines and resources. We are experiencing high call demand to both our 999 and 101 numbers and our digital services offer you the option to self-report, which will then be prioritised and actioned.

We would advise members of the public to avoid visiting our Public Enquiry Offices unless it is essential. Many of our offices have now closed, with others working to reduced hours.

Members of the public should not call police to report cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and should instead direct their concerns to NHS 111.

We have control measures that we can use if we need them. This includes conducting meetings over video or the telephone when it is suitable.

Interviews with suspects would only take place if a suspect was well enough. Officers will have access to PPE like gloves and masks if needed. Sensible and proportionate use of bail and released under investigation will be considered – this would not be used for anyone considered to be a risk to the public.

We will start off by speaking with them, and encouraging them to comply of their own free will. If necessary, we will liaise with an adult with responsibility for that child or young person. There is a power for us to provide a direction to that adult if it is necessary for us to do so.

No. We will always arrest and detain where it is necessary. During the COVID-19 pandemic officers will consider voluntary attendance rather than arrest in cases where it is safe and proportionate to do so, particularly if suspects are diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19. This would only apply to low level, low risk cases.

We are currently looking at this and are working closely with criminal justice partners to make necessary plans. We do not anticipate this will be a significant issue.

Yes. Forces will be continuing their normal service unless there is a significant impact on our ability to do so. Commanders will be considering the safest approach in each of their operations and will be briefing officers on aspects of hygiene and safety if these are executed.

Our staffing levels are reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the resources are being redirected so that we can best support to the community. At this time we need to make additional efforts to not handle unnecessary items of found property.

Please continue to follow the instruction on our website. At this time we may need to delay the release and collection of found items, and would ask for your understanding and cooperation.

There are no current plans for the army to assist with enforcement.

The public are urged to continue reporting crimes to the police as normal. Officers are continuing to work around the clock to keep the public safe and respond to emergencies.

Clearly, at this unusual and challenging time, we are prioritising the most serious of cases for immediate charging decisions. However, it is important to reiterate that we are continuing to investigate crimes as normal.

New emergency legislation

A summary of the coronavirus bill impacts can be found here

The powers are necessary to help manage the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) where a police officer, in the course of their duties, encounters a person who they suspect is, or may be, infectious.

Police officers have been engaging with the public and explaining that following the regulations helps to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. The efforts of the public mean police officers have rarely had to enforce the Government regulations. We are confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow guidance in this next stage.

Personal responsibility is now key - for those who are able to leave their homes as a result of the changes, think carefully about where you are going and how you will be able to keep your distance from others. Keep in mind the purpose of the regulations and the national effort to protect the NHS and save lives.

Police still have a role where people are gathering in groups with those not in their household - as this is not legally permitted in the regulations.

In addition, policing have a role if people have left their house for one of the reasons not designated as a reasonable excuse, such as:

  • To go on holiday, this includes to visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
  • To visit the homes of friends and family (exceptions include to protect a vulnerable person, for medical purposes or to escape risk of harm).

We will use common sense and discretion to determine what’s reasonable. Officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.

Officers are working hard to keep us all safe from the full range of crimes in what remain challenging circumstances so we would ask everyone to work with us and remember that if you need our help we are here for you.

We appreciate that the public has responded to the extraordinary restrictions placed on them as part of the national effort to save lives. The vast majority have followed the Government’s regulations, making personal sacrifices to do so.

No. We will adapt to the terms of the regulations, and will positively engage with the public as we have been doing for the last two months. The focus for police is now narrower - on those activities, which are now not lawful or which are not listed as a reasonable excuse for being outside, such as going on holiday or gathering in groups or with more than one person from another household.

The core British principle of policing by consent continues to be at the heart of our approach. Police will continue to use the approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and, only as a last resort, enforcing – our experience so far is that this is working as a tactic.

We have a special relationship with the public in this country. We police by consent, and will continue to do so during this emergency. The public will be thinking about the greater good and we encourage them to follow Government advice.

The Emergency Bill means police officers, in consultation with, or at the request of health professionals, can direct an infected person to go and immediately receive treatment or isolate at home.

It is important to note that the power to detain is not the same as that of arrest. Having this virus isn’t a crime, putting others at risk deliberately is.

We have a novel virus, which is spreading rapidly. Ensuring that people who have been in high risk areas comply with public health advice is a sensible way of slowing that spread. Our existing public health legislation does not give us sufficient powers to ensure people do that unless they are already symptomatic, during which time there is a possibility they could be infecting others.

Officers, as emergency responders, have a duty to keep the public safe. In these extraordinary circumstances, Chief Officers are doing everything they can to ensure personal protective equipment is available to those handling people infected with this virus.

The current legislation allows us to place someone under a temporary section of 24 hours. This will be extended to 36 hours. This is down from 72 hours before the time limit was reduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

This is a fast moving picture. The Government and Parliament have the responsibility for legislation, and we are working closely with them.

We are not asking for any further restrictions. The vast majority of people are behaving responsibly and following the Government instructions. For those people who officers have needed to engage with, the tactic of explaining and encouraging has proved effective in the overwhelming majority of cases. That’s reflected in the relatively small number of FPNs that have been issued and that’s the approach that we will continue to take.

Supporting our community

Local authorities are working with partners to make sure everyone who is rough sleeping across the county is assisted into temporary accommodation as soon as possible.

The vast majority have accepted the offer of accommodation, but some rough sleepers have refused the offer for personal reasons and wish to remain where they are. Support workers will continue to work with these people and discuss alternative options. Where possible wellbeing checks will be made on these people.

Outreach teams are working to engage with people who are rough sleeping to try and encourage them to accept help. This will continue on a regular basis as well as working with anyone new on the streets.

The additional risk of coronavirus has prompted many people who were rough sleeping to now accept the accommodation options offered. Options like rooms in bed and breakfasts or hotels are now much more readily available as these establishments aren’t able to operate as normal at the moment. The support services that were available to people rough sleeping such as soup kitchens and day centres have been withdrawn due to concerns about gatherings so this may help encourage people to take up accommodation offered to them. As well as this, the Government is committing additional funds to help provide what we need to at a local level.

Local authorities are working with the police and other agencies to support and advise this group on how to follow Government guidance. We are also working with the owners of the accommodation to make sure any issues are raised and addressed. Teams are working with many agencies to make sure residents have the support services they need to stay inside during this unprecedented period and the ultimate aim is to use this opportunity to keep people off the streets in the longer term.

Dorset Police is working with BCP Council and Dorset Council to ensure that the vast majority of the homeless community is now accommodated. The police will continue to engage with those that have declined support and encourage them to move inside through persuasion and education, always being mindful of the complex issues and vulnerabilities that many individuals have.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 does give the police the powers to enforce the regulations and, where necessary, officers will use them.

Dorset Police also uses dispersal powers under Section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which allows an officer to exclude a person if they are within an area that has been identified as a dispersal zone by a police inspector.

If you are concerned for someone who is rough sleeping:

  • In the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area, please call St Mungo’s team on 01202 315962 or report to: www.streetlink.org.uk
  • In the Dorset Council area, please report this via StreetLink: www.streetlink.org.uk

 

All recipients of the service will be given clear guidance from the NHS on how to safeguard themselves, but some key tips are:

  • Never open the door to someone claiming to be an NHS Volunteer Responder unless you are expecting them (they will phone ahead)
  • Check the ID on their phone (they will leave it on your doorstep and stand two metres back)
  • If in doubt, ask them to call you. They will have your number in their phone if they are genuinely an NHS Volunteer Responder.

Many supermarkets and shops are putting measures in place to provide opportunities for vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, to get the supplies they need. These measures are set and monitored by the stores themselves.

There are also local volunteer and community groups that have been set up to provide additional support to those who need it – you may find details at covidmutualaid.org. Be sure to find out what your local authority has in place, too.

Remember to check GOV.UK for the latest news and updates.

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to provide volunteer support to those clinically most at risk from coronavirus who have been advised to stay “shielded”, and to provide patient transport. It has also been expanded to include other people who are referred from specific individuals and organisations who consider them to be vulnerable for a range of reasons.  This initiative is being delivered on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

Police staff, MPs, some charities, local government and the other emergency services are now among the people who can request help for someone who they consider to be vulnerable whilst in isolation at home, in addition to health and social care staff.

When making a referral online, please use your official email address and select “The police or fire service” from the drop-down box on the referral form.

Once someone is registered for support, the RVS call centre will match up the tasks that need to be undertaken to help people with volunteers who live near to them.

More detailed guidance on who is likely to be eligible for support is set out here. Please read the document before filling out the referral form, which is here: www.goodsamapp.org/NHSreferral