POLICE officers are patrolling the streets in Basingstoke to check that people are following the guidelines issued by the government on social distancing to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.  

Hampshire Constabulary said its priority is to “reduce the spread of infection and keep our NHS functioning”.

A statement from the force said it will “enforce” the new regulations that have been issued by the government, which came into effect on March 26.

The new powers in England allow police to instruct people to go home, leave an area or disperse; ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules; issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days; and issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence.

Those who do not pay a fixed penalty notice could be taken to court.

Hampshire Constabulary said: “Our position has always been to engage with our communities, explain why we want them to do what we need them to do, encourage them to comply, and, if we have to, enforce.

“The vast majority of people do comply with the law, and we’re sure the vast majority will comply with the new measures. We will be out in our communities encouraging this to happen.”