Police urge against complacency amid COVID 19 restrictions

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ACT Policing is urging Canberrans to remain vigilant and continue to abide by the ACT Government’s advice concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Wednesday 8 April, 2020 ACT Policing has attended 164 call-outs for reported breaches of COVID-19 directions, while 140 calls have been made to ACT Policing following the set-up of the ACT Government’s COVID-19 helpline. To date, ACT Policing has received more than 600 reports of COVID-19 related incidents.

In all COVID-19 related matters that have required police attendance, officers spoke to those involved to educate them about social distancing and current health directions. Everyone was cooperative with police and followed advice.

No infringements have been issued in the ACT for breaches of COVID-19 directions. ACT Policing’s response to COVID-19 remains a staged one – we will educate before providing warnings and fines.

Despite this, Chief Police Officer for the ACT Ray Johnson said now was not the time for complacency.

“These experiences are new for everyone, so it is fair and right that we continue to educate people and encourage compliance first before moving to warnings and fines,” Chief Police Officer Johnson said.

“I recognise Canberrans have heightened feelings about the risk of spread of COVID-19, but now is the time to show understanding and support.

“The safety of the ACT community is our primary focus, and I would encourage the community to continue to work with police together in a positive way to encourage compliance.

“If we all follow the health advice we will flatten the curve and come out the other end. We’re in this situation for a long time so let’s reach out to each other, from a 1.5m distance of course.”

CPO Johnson said the current situation was a good time to think of the messages and principles of ACT Policing’s community-based crime prevention programs, like Neighbourhood Watch.

“The aim is to connect with each other and build a caring community so together you are aware and safe,” he said.

“I would say now is a good time if you don’t know your neighbours to put a note in their letter box introducing yourself, who you live with and perhaps sharing contact details. The more you know, the less worried you might be about what is happening around you.

“My advice to every Canberran is be as informed as possible about your neighbourhood, and report legitimate concerns to the ACT Government and ACT Policing.”

For all general enquiries, including to make a report of non-compliance of the public health directions with referrals to ACT Health Protection Services, ACT Policing or Access Canberra Fair Trading, you can contact the COVID-19 Helpline on 6207 7244 (8am – 8pm, 7 days a week) or online form available here. For police assistance call 131 444 and only contact Triple-Zero for emergencies.

Media enquiries

Police Media — (02) 5126 9070, act-police-media@afp.gov.au