POLICE Community Support Officers will be carrying out high-visibility patrols to encourage members of the public to comply with the Covid guidance and regulations.

Wiltshire Police has tasked dedicated groups of PCSOs with monitoring behaviour and responding to reports from the public.

This proactive, targeted work, will also be supported by frontline police officers, staff and special constables, who will continue to work hard to police the restrictions alongside their everyday duties, as they have been doing since the regulations started.

Between July 24 and September, the police have issued two Covid-related fixed penalty notices. The first related to an incident in Swindon where someone was not wearing a face covering inside a petrol station, and the second related to a house party in Devizes.

Officers created 557 Covid-related logs, which is where they track telephone and online reports about potential breaches in the regulations.

Of these logs, 19 were calls from businesses or members of the public who wanted help in enforcing the face covering legislation.

Assistant chief constable Deb Smith said: “From the beginning of the pandemic, we have focused on engaging with the public, explaining the situation and encouraging people to adhere to the various rules and regulations.

“For the most part, this has worked well and we have been pleased to see so many people taking them seriously and doing everything they can to keep people safe.

“However, the Prime Minister has made it clear that we all need to be doing more to try to stop the spread of the virus, which is why we have organised these proactive teams of PCSOs to allow us to respond swiftly to concerns from the public and carry out high-visibility patrols of areas or businesses where we have received information about repeated breaches.

“Up until now we have issued very few fixed penalty notices – mainly due to the success of our engagement approach and the high levels of compliance across Wiltshire and Swindon – but we need people to understand the legal requirements which support the guidance and that we will take action against those who deliberately or repeatedly ignore the rules.”

PCC Angus Macpherson supported the force taking a tougher approach, working alongside partnership agencies, including the two local authorities.

He said: “One of the biggest challenges which has faced police forces is how to enforce the restrictions, while still dealing with the rising every-day demand that policing across the country is having to manage.

“I believe using these dedicated teams of PCSOs is a sensible idea.

“Although all our frontline police officers and staff will still respond to Covid breaches as part of their everyday duties, these PCSOs will be focused on policing the restrictions and will hopefully provide some high-visibility reassurance for our businesses and local communities.”