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.

Face coverings in England

As of Friday 24 July, the law in England requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places. We have updated our FAQs as far as possible but there may be further changes or additions over the next few days.

Tourism and second homes

Day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted. However, we urge you to please respect our communities and go home or somewhere else if it is busy.

Hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and other types of accommodation are allowed to open from Saturday 4 July. One household is allowed to stay overnight at another household from this date too.

As of Saturday 4 July, you are able to stay overnight in holiday homes and second homes. This should be with your own household or social bubble, or with one other household.

Yes, as of Saturday 4 July campsites are allowed to open and you are allowed to stay overnight in your campervan or go camping in a tent. Please be sure to follow any social distancing measures in place.

Travel

Yes. However, you should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. If you do need to use public transport, it is mandatory that you wear a face covering.

The Government has created safer travel guidance for passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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.

From 30 March 2020 until 31 July 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans were extended by six months to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Vehicles due an MOT on or after 01 August 2020 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.

Read further MOT information on gov.uk.

One household is able to stay overnight at another.

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

It’s important that we all reduce our day-to-day contact with people outside of our own household or social bubble, 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 apart from anyone outside of your household where possible. If this is not possible, try to keep one metre or more distance with additional measures (e.g. wearing face coverings, not directly facing others) to reduce the risk. More information can be found on gov.uk.

From the 24 of July 2020 in England, the law requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places, including shops, transport hubs, banks and post offices.

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.

No. The responsibility for the management of these sites is with local authorities.

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

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.

International travel restrictions are in place to help to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. While restrictions are different for different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, those coming to England on or after 8 June must:

  • Provide journey and contact details using the public health passenger locator form 48 hours before arriving.
  • Present the details in the completed form on arrival to England.
  • Self-isolate at the place they are staying for the first 14 days (except in very limited situations.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel and you should not travel if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

There are a number of countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel – you can find a full list on gov.uk.

Passengers arriving the UK will be contacted regularly by Public Health England to ensure they understand the requirements and are self-isolating. If anyone is suspected of breaching the restrictions, their details will be passed on to the central triage team and police forces will be asked to visit the individuals address.

As always, our approach remains to engage, explain and encourage, and only where necessary enforce.

Wherever possible, people should continue to avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive, but for some this may not be an option. As of 15 June, face coverings are required while using public transport in England. There are exemptions for children under 11, emergency workers in the course of their duties, travel operators and where a person cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness, impairment or disability.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks and it is important that people do not use medical grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff. More information on face coverings can be found on the gov.uk website.

Management of wearing face coverings will largely be a matter for public transport providers who will engage with those using their services.

If police intervention is required, we will continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance to these regulations and will only enforce as a last resort.

Exercise and recreation

You can take part in watersports, including swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea. Outdoor public pools were allowed to open from Saturday 11 July, with indoor pools able to open from Saturday 25 July.

The RNLI currently have a limited coverage of lifeguards at beaches in the region – you can see a full list on the RNLI website.

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.

Please take care when in the water and be aware of your own abilities. 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).

You can take part in watersports, including surfing. Read more on the gov.uk website.

The RNLI currently have a limited coverage of lifeguards at beaches in the region – you can see a full list on the RNLI website.

Please take care when in the water and be aware of your own abilities. 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).

We would urge anyone planning on going surfing follows the advice set out by Surfing England.

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 Wednesday 15 July):

“We recommend that members continue to follow the government and public health guidelines. 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.

Competitive sea angling can also now resume, and the Angling Trust have put together guidance to allow this to happen safely.

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

People are able to spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing. This should be alone, with members of your own household and one other household, or in groups of no more than six people from more than two different households whilst adhering to social distancing measures.

As of Saturday 4 July two households are able to spend time together indoors or outdoors, adhering to social distancing guidance.

Those who are considered clinically vulnerable are able to follow the new eased restrictions but should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are now able to meet in groups of up to six people from different households with strict social distancing of two metres and no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household. Those who live alone are now able to form a ‘social bubble’ with one other household and can spend time together inside each other’s home, including overnight, without needing to socially distance.

You can read more on gov.uk.

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.

The Canal and River Trust has stated that the waterways in England are open from 4 July. Where local lockdowns are required, specific areas may have different rules.

Please be sensible and use the waterways only within the limits of your ability. 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).

You are allowed to take unlimited exercise outside, alone, with your household, with members from one other household or in groups of no more than six people from more than two households as long as you stay two metres apart.

Indoor fitness and dance studios and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities were allowed to reopen from 25 July 2020 as long as they have measures in place to be COVID secure.

You can exercise or play sports outside in groups of up to six people from other households or with as many members from a one other household to your own, but only where it is possible to maintain a two metre gap from those you don’t live with, or at least one metre with additional precautions.

People who play team sports can meet to train together and do things like conditioning or fitness sessions outside but they must be in separate groups of no more than six and must be two metres apart. While groups could practice ball skills like passing and kicking, equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum and strong hand hygiene practices should be in place before and after.

You can also play doubles tennis with people from outside of your household as long as you remain two metres apart as far as possible. Any equipment that is used should be cleaned frequently. Cleaning should be particularly thorough if it is to be used by someone else.

If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

Indoor fitness and dance studios and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities are able to open from Saturday 25 July, as long as they have been made COVID secure.

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 between every household group or social bubble (which counts as one household) where possible. If this isn’t possible, you should keep a distance of one metre or more with extra precautions (e.g. face coverings).

As of Saturday 4 July, a number of businesses were able to reopen, including pubs, libraries, cinemas and social clubs, as long as they are COVID secure. Outdoor pools and waterparks, were allowed to open from Saturday 11 July. Nail bars and salons, tanning booths and salons, spas and beauty salons, massage parlours, tattoo parlours and body piercing services were allowed to reopen from Monday 13 July, with restrictions on high risk services. However, some businesses are still required to remain closed by law, including

  • Nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques
  • Casinos
  • Sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor skating rinks
  • Indoor play areas, including soft-play areas
  • Exhibition halls or conference centres must remain closed for events such as exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for the business or organisation who run the venue.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, are responsible for enforcing regulations requiring these businesses to remain closed.

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.

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.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating you should delay moving home.

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.

Two households of any size or up to six people from more than two households can meet outside.

If a large gathering is asked to disperse, officers may also make reasonable judgement as to whether these people are part of one, two or more households. For example, a group of ten teenagers are unlikely to all live together, whereas three adults and four children could reasonably 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 distance, or a one metre distance with additional precautions, from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety. If this isn’t possible, you should keep a distance of one metre or more with extra precautions (e.g. face coverings). Make sure that everyone washes their hands before and after they touch any surfaces.

As long as you are able to implement social distancing measures, you are able to continue offering this service.

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

As of Saturday 4 July, places of worship are able to open for group prayer and services, including weddings with a maximum of 30 people. This is subject to social distancing measures being put in place.

As of Saturday 4 July, weddings and civil partnerships will be allowed to take place. You should only invite close friends and family, up to a maximum of 30 people.

This exception is for wedding ceremonies only and large wedding receptions or parties should not happen.

Wedding celebrations can only happen when people follow the guidance of six people outdoors, support bubbles or two households indoors or outdoors.

You can find more information on gov.uk.

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.

As of Saturday 4 July you are able to stay overnight away from your home with members of one other household.

The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) have advised that deer stalking, 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.

With restrictions starting to ease, people are able to do more of the things they enjoy. From Monday 15 June, all shops can reopen, but must ensure that they have been made COVID-19 secure.

You should continue to stay alert and limit your contact with others. If you are visiting shops or other businesses that are allowed to be open it’s important that you follow social distancing guidelines and adhere to any measures that have been put in place. From Friday 24 July face coverings are mandatory in some enclosed places, including shops, transport hubs, banks and post offices.

Visit gov.uk for more information about the new face coverings regulations in England.

Indoor fitness studios, gyms, and other indoor leisure centres or facilities are able to reopen from Saturday 25 July.

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.

The police can only enforce the regulations. Social distancing and groups of up to six people from different households is Government guidance and people need to take individual responsibility for following it.

As of Saturday 4 July two households of any size or groups of up to six people from more than two households are allowed to meet outside and in gardens or private outdoor spaces. You should continue to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

Gatherings of more than six people from different households are still not allowed, even in private gardens and outdoor spaces.

Two households of any size are able to meet inside with social distancing adhered to, and one household is able to stay overnight at another. It is not recommended to have multiple meetings of multiple households indoors.

Those who are considered clinically vulnerable are able to follow the new eased restrictions but should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are now able to meet in groups of up to six people from different households with strict social distancing of two metres and no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household. Those who live alone are now able to form a ‘social bubble’ with one other household and can spend time together inside each other’s home, including overnight, without needing to socially distance.

You should not be sharing garden equipment with people outside of your household because of the risk of transmission. You could bring your own or ensure they are wiped down carefully with household cleaner before and after use.

You should also avoid sharing toys and sports equipment, as well as paddling pools and private swimming pools, with people outside of your own household.

Yes, but stay alert. You should not use plates or utensils that someone from another house has touched - either bring your own or ensure you have thoroughly cleaned them before using. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and use disposable towels if possible.

If you are visiting someone else’s garden as part of a group of six people from different households, you must not go inside to help the host carry the food out or to help with the washing up. If you are part of one household visiting one other household you are able to spend time inside their home, whilst adhering to social distancing.

Councils are responsible for public toilets and this decision is up to them. You should avoid using the public toilet where possible. If you need to use any of these facilities, you should practise social distancing and good hygiene (i.e. washing your hands thoroughly).

The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate. We have robust and proportionate policing plans in place so that we can work with communities and those taking part wherever possible.

COVID-19 remains a deadly disease and there are still restrictions in place to prevent its spread, including limiting gatherings to no more than six people from different households. Personal responsibility is key – for those who are able to leave their homes, you should think carefully about where you are going and how you are able to keep distance from others.

Single adult households (including single parents with children under the age of 18) are able to form a ‘support bubble’ or ‘linked household’ with one other household. Those in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time inside each other’s homes, including staying overnight, and do not need to stay two metres apart.

Support bubbles must be exclusive and you cannot switch households. If anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the isolation guidance.

Two households of any size are able to meet inside with social distancing adhered to, and one household is able to stay overnight at another. It is not recommended to have multiple meetings of multiple households indoors.

Those who are considered clinically vulnerable are able to follow the new eased restrictions but should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are now able to meet in groups of up to six people from different households with strict social distancing of two metres and no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household. Those who live alone are now able to form a ‘social bubble’ with one other household and can spend time together inside each other’s home, including overnight, without needing to socially distance.

Some outdoor attractions including zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas were able to open from Monday 15 June.

Additional activities, including funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks were able to open from Saturday 4 July. The easing of restrictions on this date also allowed any indoor areas, such as reptile houses and aquariums, to open.

From Saturday 11 July, outdoor pools and waterparks were allowed to reopen.

Any businesses that are able to reopen after being closed due to the Coronavirus legislation must make sure that it is ‘COVID secure’ by taking necessary and reasonable precautions to protect staff and customers. There are various things that could be put in place, including increasing space between tables, the inclusion of screens at tills or bars or a requirement to wear face coverings. This may look different for each business, depending on their needs.

We understand that many want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit pubs and bars as soon as possible, especially after having been unable to do so for so long. We of course want people to have a good time and enjoy themselves, but we must remember that COVID-19 is still a serious risk to health. As such, people need to continue to follow the Government’s guidance to mitigate the transmission of the virus, including social distancing, increased hygiene measures and following the instructions of staff.

We urge people to drink responsibly, follow the guidance set out and maintain a safe environment for everyone. Know your limits, plan your day and consider how you will get home safely. Anti-social and criminal behaviour is not acceptable and police continue to work with the night time economy to maximise safety and cut crime.

Yes, if you are able to do so. As of Friday 24 July, the law in England requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places. This means that unless individuals have exemptions, a shop can refuse entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. People who are exempt from wearing a face covering include, but are not limited to, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities.

The liability for wearing a face covering lies with the individual. We expect that the public will follow these regulations to help everyone keep the spread of the virus under control.

Retailers and their staff should encourage customers to wear face coverings inside their premises. If someone without an exemption refuses to wear a face covering, a shop has the option to refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. We hope this will not be necessary but if the police are called we will endeavour to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules. Enforcing these regulations will always be a last resort.

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.

Scams based on “NHS test and trace”

Phishing emails relating to the government Test & Trace service have been reported nationally. Some scam text messages relating to Test and Trace are also reported to be in circulation. Remember: Test and Trace staff will NEVER ask you for financial details, PINs or passwords, they will NEVER visit your home and they will NEVER do any of the following:

  • Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • Ask you to make any form of payment
  • Ask for any details about your bank account
  • Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • Ask you to purchase a product
  • Ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet
  • Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS

Members of the public can send their suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk and the NCSC’s automated programme will immediately test the validity of the site. Any sites found to be phishing scams will be removed immediately.

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.

Government guidance states that gatherings should be limited to members of two households, or no more than six people from different households when outdoors, and only members from a maximum of two households indoors. It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces). Businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups provided they comply with the law. 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.

Takeaway food can continue to be offered.

As of Saturday 4 July restaurants, pubs and hotels which offer food to eat indoors or in outdoor seating areas are able to open, as long as they are following COVID secure guidance.

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.

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.

We would encourage you to contact us if you believe there to be a substantial risk to people’s health within your community.

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, are able 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.

No. This service has been temporarily suspended.

Members of the public may require fingerprints for visa applications, police clearance or good conduct certificates from abroad. However, due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions we currently do not have the ability to take these prints and as such the public are requested not to attend police stations for this service.

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.

There are still restrictions on a number of premises and businesses that are required to remain closed. This includes:

  • Nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques
  • Casinos
  • Sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor skating rinks
  • Indoor play areas, including soft-play areas
  • Exhibition halls or conference centres must remain closed for events such as exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for the business or organisation who run the venue.

Government guidance remains that up to two households of any number can meet indoors or outdoors, or up to six people from more than two households can meet outdoors.

Gatherings of more than 30 people are not allowed in a private dwelling or houseboat, on a vessel or on public land which is used as a public outdoor space. Gatherings can go ahead if the following three conditions are met:

  • The gathering is organised by a business, charity, public or political body
  • The person responsible for the gathering has carried out a risk assessment
  • The gathering organiser has taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission, as per the risk assessment.

Reasonable examples of gatherings include for:

  • Work purposes
  • Education or training
  • Childcare
  • Emergency assistance
  • Avoidance of injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  • Fulfilment of a legal obligation

In addition, the Secretary of State now has powers to restrict access to specific public outdoor places, such as Bournemouth beach, or public outdoor places of a specified description, such as beaches. This is to enable a quick time response to a serious and imminent threat to public health, or to protect against the spread of infection.

As we have throughout the pandemic, officers will aim to engage, explain and encourage, and then, only if necessary use enforcement.

Government guidance around social distancing is not enforceable and the police will not get involved in matters of this nature.

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 of more than six people from different households.

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.

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.

The Government intends to bring in legislation that will create a criminal offence if an individual does not comply with the measures, punishable by a fixed penalty notice.  Enforcement by police would only be used as a last resort.

Policing still has a role where people are gathering in large groups of over thirty indoors or outdoors, as these are restricted by the Regulations.

Officers may direct the gathering to disperse, direct any person from the gathering to return home, and remove any person gathering in a public place to the place they are living.

As throughout this public crisis, officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.

Gatherings are public if they take place in areas accessible to the general public, including gatherings in public gardens or parks, public roads, or open countryside.

This does not apply to land if it is operated as a visitor attraction, or part of premises used for the operation of a business, charity or public body. 

Outdoor gatherings on public land may take place if certain conditions are met, including: being organised by a business, charitable institution, political or public body; a risk assessment has been conducted; and reasonable measures have been taken to limit the risk of transmission. Officers may ask to see the risk assessment.

Gatherings may also be permitted, where reasonably necessary:

  • When all persons in the gathering are members of the same household, or two households;
  • For work purposes;
  • For education or training purposes;
  • To provide emergency assistance, or avoid a risk of harm; or
  • To fulfil a legal obligation.

The Secretary of State has powers to restrict access to specified public spaces or public spaces of a specified description to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Local authorities can also give a direction to close a specific outdoor place in its area, such as Bournemouth beach, or outdoor places of a specified description in its area – such as public parks.

Local authorities will be responsible for making people aware and preventing public access to restricted areas.

People may not enter restricted areas without a reasonable excuse – doing so may be an offence. We encourage people to avoid restricted areas. As always, officers will engage, explain and encourage individuals to comply with these restrictions, in the first instance.

Officers may direct people to leave restricted areas immediately, and remove people from the restricted area, if required.

Local authorities may give a direction in relation to events being held in its area. This could related to a specific event or events of a specified description. This could involve imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation to holding an event.

If this does happen, local authorities must take reasonable steps to give advance notice to event organisers and owners or occupiers of the premises it is to be held in.

Events must comply with these directions and we encourage organisers and attendees to follow any directions that are put in place. If necessary, officers will engage, explain and encourage compliance to any restrictions, and will only resort to enforcement as a last resort.

Supporting our community

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.

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