The commander leading South Wales Police’s response to Coronavirus has praised the majority of the public who heeded the government plea to stay home and save lives over the Easter bank holiday period.
Despite the glorious weather, the region’s parks, beaches and popular tourist spots remained largely deserted as the public played their part to help slow the spread of the disease.
A small minority, however, continued to flout the rules, and the force received calls from members of the public concerned about others’ irresponsible and selfish actions.
Among the incidents dealt with by officers over Easter were:
- Four men from Cardiff who travelled to Langland Bay, Swansea, to go fishing. Having admitted to officers that they understood the restrictions but “wanted to get out after being stuck in all week”, they were issued with fixed penalty notices. One of the four, a 38-year-old, was arrested on an outstanding arrest warrant and has been remanded in custody.
- Two men and two women from Cardiff who travelled to Rhondda to climb a mountain, before getting lost and calling for police assistance. All four were rescued before being issued with a fixed penalty.
- A woman from Cardiff who was fined after her 13-year-old son repeatedly breached the restrictions.
- A shoplifter in Cardiff who falsely claimed to have tested positive for Coronavirus to try and avoid being arrested.
- A man who drove from Port Talbot to Mumbles to enjoy the coastline. When stopped, he told officers “it was a nice day”, before being instructed to return home. Despite the warning, he proceeded to drive to another beach car park, where he was subsequently arrested and later issued with a fixed penalty.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Valentine said: “This remains an unprecedented national emergency in which we all have a part to play, and we are extremely grateful to those who took their responsibility seriously and continued to stay home at the weekend.
“Our officers responded to more than 1,200 COVID-related calls on Saturday alone, and our neighbourhood teams and specialist departments were out patrolling our communities and popular beauty spots throughout the weekend.
“The restrictions are crucial to protecting the NHS and saving lives and I would like to thank people across South Wales for following the Government’s advice and implore them to continuing to adhere the restrictions.
“Sadly, a small minority chose not to do so over the Easter period and in doing so selfishly put others at risk.
“Whilst South Wales Police remains committed to encouraging people to voluntarily comply with the restrictions, we were left with no option but to enforce the legislation in a number of cases.
“We are grateful to those who have contacted us over the weekend to raise concerns about possible breaches of the COVID-19 legislation. We will continue to respond to concerns in a proportionate and measured way, but I would appeal directly to those who believe that the regulations don’t apply to them to think long and hard about the consequences of their actions. The restrictions exist to save lives – the lives of their families, loved ones and members of their communities.
“Whilst we have been working hard to keep the public safe from the Coronavirus pandemic, the force is continuing to fight crime and protect the public. Colleagues across the force are continuing to work around the clock to keep our communities safe from knife crime, drugs and other violent offending.”
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said: “The vast majority of people in south Wales are listening to the government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
“Sadly, a relatively small number of people have ignored the rules, putting themselves and others at risk of contracting this terrible virus.
“I’m pleased to see police officers explaining, engaging and encouraging people – and to see the positive response they are getting from the vast majority of people. They have the support of all of us in using enforcement when it is absolutely necessary.
“Police officers and PCSOs are as much a part of the local community as the rest of us, with worries about their own families and elderly relatives – and I’m immensely proud of the way they are doing their jobs in this extraordinary and difficult time.”
To report a crime or incident, please contact 101, or visit https://digitalservices.south-wales.police.uk/en/online-crime-reporting/. In an emergency, please always dial 999.