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Majority ‘favours tougher approach’ to Covid rule breakers

More than three quarters of respondents to a snap survey into the enforcement of new Covid-19 measures think agencies involved should take a tougher approach.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset launched the survey last week following the Prime Minister’s announcement of new restrictions, and nearly 1,800 people responded to it in less than 48 hours.

Nearly 92% of those who responded said they supported the approach taken by the responsible agencies in Dorset, of explaining and encouraging people to follow the rules, prior to enforcement.

However, when asked which statement best described their view of how agencies could do more to minimise the risk of further transmission, 55% thought they should take a harder line with those not following the rules while 21% thought a zero tolerance approach should be taken towards rule breaking.

Member of the public taking part in an online survey

Only 3% said those agencies should show more leniency when enforcing the rules and 8% said enforcement should be used as a last resort – with the remainder suggesting that agencies should continue as they had done so far.

The survey was intended to provide a snapshot of public opinion ahead of any decisions being made about a new approach.

These findings have been shared with senior officers from Dorset Police and leaders from other public sector agencies in the county, while an update was given to members of last week’s Police and Crime Panel.

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “After the Government announced new measures last Tuesday to combat the spread of coronavirus, it was vitally important that we took a snap survey of the public’s views into how they feel authorities in Dorset should approach the enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions.

“If a new approach needs to be taken towards enforcing the new restrictions and taking firmer action against those who don’t comply with the rules, it’s important we find out whether the public supports this.

“We needed to urgently get a picture of the public’s views and so – unlike many of our surveys – this was always intended to run for a very short time. I apologise to anyone who wasn’t able to take part, but Covid is a fast moving issue and we needed to respond to this latest development as quickly as possible.”

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