POLICE will start being tougher with people who continually refuse to stick to the Covid rules.

The warning comes from Sussex Chief Constable Jo Shiner, whose force has been handing out £10,000 fines for the most serious offenders. 

Police will continue to engage with people who make “genuine mistakes”.

But, she said, hard-working frontline officers are now facing abuse from some people who do not agree with current coronavirus restrictions.

And despite “the vast majority” of people “doing the right thing”, the rule-flouters are distracting officers as crime rises above pre-Covid levels.

At a virtual press conference yesterday, the police chief explained why some people breaking the rules were given “words of advice” while others were issued with £10,000 fines. 

The Argus: Sussex Chief Constable said the majority of people were "doing the right thing"Sussex Chief Constable said the majority of people were "doing the right thing"

She said: “This is exactly where the engage, explain, encourage and then the enforce approach comes into it.

“Where people are prepared to listen and to leave and to take the advice that is offered to them, then that is unlikely to end up in an enforcement notice.

“The circumstances where we are enforcing it are where people have been told before, where they simply haven’t listened to the advice or they have blatantly ignored the advice.

“We have had quite a few occasions where people have been really rude, really offensive to officers as well because they don’t agree with it. 

“Well, lots of people have lots of views on Covid, of course, and I think everybody is trying to find the right way through, whether you’re an individual or an organisation. 

“Certainly, everything has been new to policing as it has to all of us. 

“So that’s where that discretion comes in... in terms of making sure that we do give people the opportunity to do what we’re asking them to do.

“But as time as gone on, what we haven’t done is to give them quite as much opportunity, because at the beginning it was new to everybody, but now frankly, some of the obvious ones, people do need to make the right choices for themselves.”


And Louise Creffield, an anti-lockdown activist who told The Argus she was organising a seafront protest, was handed a similar fine after the event went ahead. 

Chief Constable Shiner said Sussex had faced extra challenges earlier on due to its coastline and “more than our fair share of protests”.

She warned the battle to get the few rule-breakers to abide by the coronavirus restrictions is affecting the force’s ability to tackle criminals.

She said: “The other side to this is that it’s really important that we continue with our daily policing.  

“Our demand is back to, if not higher, than what it was before and I want our officers and frontline people to focus on catching those criminals, tackling those who are committing crimes within our communities. 

“A lot of the time when we’re tied up dealing with other things, we’re not able to do that and that’s where, clearly, the priorities lie. 

“It’s a difficult, complex, policing environment, let’s not say that it’s not, because it is and I think everyone on our frontline would say that. 

“That’s why I’m so proud in the way in which they have tackled it.”


Earlier this week, The Argus reported some crimes have risen dramatically during lockdown.

There is now an average of more than 500 domestic violence cases a month, according to an official report.

Key workers reported suffering more abuse during the lockdown. From

March to July, there was a 26 per cent increase in abuse towards police and 56 per cent towards other emergency workers.

The police chief said the force was working hard to tackle offences, prioritising “protecting our communities, catching criminals and delivering an outstanding service”.

“I wanted to say a huge thank you to the public,” she said.

“Because we police by consent, and always have done, and it has been incredibly challenging for many people in our communities during this period of time. 

“I know that many of those people in our communities have experienced significant changes in their lives. 

“We have tried really hard to recognise the impact that has had on people’s behaviours.

“It has been a time for learning for everybody, the police included.”