Police will be 'stepping up enforcement action' after three breaches of Rule of Six in Northampton result in fines and increase in complaints

"We will be proportionate, but where we have clear and flagrant breaches we will now be stepping up action"

Friday, 25th September 2020, 5:18 pm
Updated Friday, 25th September 2020, 5:24 pm
File photo. Enforcement action was taken against three breaches of the Rule of Six related to the Waterside Campus on Thursday (September 24).

A top county police chief has confirmed the force took action three times yesterday in Northampton over people breaking the Rule of Six and warn they are prepared to "step up" enforcement from here on out.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly was askedn at a press conference today (September 25) if his officers had had to take enforcement action against groups of more than six now that the new law has been in place for nearly two weeks.

It comes after Northamptonshire Police reported the county had not seen any enforcement action at the end of last week five days after the rule was introduced.

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ACC Blatchly said: "We have issued three tickets yesterday for breaches of the rule of six in Northampton related to the university [Waterside Campus].

"But to be clear we're seeing a rise in out calls from the members of the public about breaches of the rule of six generally across the county.

"We will be stepping up and enforcing more than we have done. There is an argument that this has been going on for six months and people should be aware.

"We will be proportionate, but where we have clear and flagrant breaches we will now be stepping up action."

The university's director of estates and campus services Becky Bradshaw confirmed that the three breaches were enforced by the campus' own on-site police team.

She said: "Enforcement action was taken against those individuals and we are working with our local team to respond from a disciplinary point of view.

"I would like to stress this was a very small minority. We have over 10,000 students at the University of Northampton and over 2,000 of which in student accommodation. Really, it's a very small number."

In subsequent questions, Mrs Bradshaw said the university was unable to confirm if there have been any outbreaks or exposures of Covid-19 since the beginning of term.

The University of Northampton says it implemented a range of Covid-19 restrictions ahead of students returning to campus this month.

They include a reduction to face to face teaching, alternative plans to freshers week with focus on small activities, and developeing an outbreak prevention and management plan to prevent spread of the virus in student accommodation.

Students are also required to sign an agreement to follow Covid-19 guidelines on campus.

In line with national trends, between Augsut 24 and September 20, the largest number of Covid-19 cases in Northamptonshire were reported among its 20-29 year old demographic.

County councillor and cabinet member for public health Ian Morris said it was important "not to demonise young people".