DORSET Police is well-prepared to enforce the latest measures from the Government in response to the coronavirus crisis, its chief constable has said.

Chief Constable James Vaughan has issued a personal message to the county’s communities in which he asks for the public’s help to ease the strain on the police force.

He said: “The Government announced emergency measures that represent some of the most far-reaching curbs on our personal freedom ever introduced in the UK.

“While we are coming to terms with the impact these restrictions will have upon us, I would like to reiterate that these measures have been brought in to save lives and protect our loved ones.

“The rules are very clear and I urge you all to follow this very simple advice to stay at home and help us to help the national effort.”

Mr Vaughan said he hopes the new measures - which instruct people to stay at home and to only leave for a few specific reasons - will be adhered to and people are sensible. However, he also said officers will take action if they see these rules being broken and people putting lives at risk.

He said over the coming days, officers will be intrusive and will be asking people what they’re doing. Warnings will be given to those breaching the rules and if people ‘really can’t do as they’re told’, fines will be given.

“British policing is founded on the consent of the public. I am therefore asking you all to do the right thing for everyone and stay at home,” he said.

“We all need to pull together and I am confident that you will all listen and abide by these very simple rules. We owe it to our loved ones, our friends, colleagues and neighbours to keep people safe and well.”

From today, Mr Vaughan will be chairing a Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) with partner agencies to ensure ‘we do all we can to help people through this unprecedented time.’ Similar to the NHS, he says Dorset Police will be looking at ways to bring back retired officers, use volunteer officers and retain current staff in a bid to meet demand.

“It’s all hands to the pump,” he said.

He said he is confident the force is prepared, but urged the public to help ease the strain by thinking ‘very carefully’ before calling police for non-urgent matters.

“Dorset Police remains open for business and we will continue to keep people safe and respond to serious crime but our key priority over the coming weeks and months will be to provide visible leadership for our communities through these extraordinary times,” he said.

“However, I must make myself clear that whilst we will adopt a caring, compassionate and respectful approach to the new Government direction, I must warn people that non-compliance of these reasonable and necessary restrictions will ultimately lead to positive police action and potentially prosecution under emergency powers provided to me by Parliament.

“In responding to this national emergency It must not be forgotten the sacrifice our officers and staff, alongside other emergency services, are taking so we can continue to protect you, prevent crime and uphold the law. I am immensely proud of the commitment and dedication they continue to show.”

“We are doing all we can to keep our officers and staff safe while they continue to serve the public.”