The Met Police has pledged to deploy additional troops to clamp down on breaches of Covid-19 regulations in the London boroughs where transmission rates are highest.
The police force will step up engagement and enforcement action using dedicated patrols in those areas worst affected by infection rates.
Whilst the patrols will be adapted based on changing infection rates, officers will first be deployed in Hammersmith and Fulham and Hackney, which currently have the highest rates in the capital, followed by Earling and Kingston.
But police chief Matt Twist stressed that it did not mean other parts of the city would see a reduction in existing patrols, the aim instead is to “show down reckless breaches of the regulations.”
Officers will be targeting the most deliberate, dangerous or flagrant of breaches of the regulations, which risk putting the health of the community in danger, to protect Londoners from this deadly disease.
“I know the vast majority of Londoners are sticking to the rules which are designed to keep everyone in our communities safe, ” said Twist, the Met’s lead for Covid-19 response.
“But, there is a small minority who have a disregard for the health of our communities and it is those individuals who we will be targeting with these new patrols.
“We have been, and continue to listen to our communities and explain to them our policing approach, and have been regularly reviewing our deployment plan according to the latest infection rates by PHE.
“This remains under constant assessment and where we see an increase in reported cases we adapt our response to reflect that.”
It’s is now reported that coronavirus is spreading faster in London than anywhere else in England, with the R number just below three.
Kingston is now the third London borough where coronavirus rates have exceeded 200 cases per 100,000 residents based on the latest Public Health England statistics.
The other two are Hammersmith & Fulham and Ealing.
However, south east London boroughs are not far behind after experiencing their own recent rise, and all now have infection rates above 100.
Twist added: “Extra patrols have, this week, been deployed to Hammersmith and Fulham and Hackney, and we will continue to monitor the reported cases to ensure we are doing all we can, working with our communities, to tackle the further spread of this disease.
“We are now approaching the Halloween weekend; another significant date in the annual calendar for celebrating, which is going to be different this year with parties unable to go ahead as normal.
“As much as the restrictions may seem disheartening, we want to remind people that they are in place for an important reason, to keep everyone safe.
“We will always listen to our communities and seek to engage with them; throughout the period of lockdown, this is the stance we have been taking, however, we are now in Tier Two of restrictions and we have a responsibility, alongside our partners including PHE and the government to ensure people are kept safe and so will be moving more quickly onto enforcement as previously seen.”
The Met added that with violence and anti-social behaviour tending to increase at this time of year when the nights draw in earlier, a range of operational activity is planned over this period to intensify existing efforts to prevent and bear down on violence in all its forms.
Londoners are asked to report serious breaches to us via the 101 telephone system or using the Met’s online reporting system.