NEW figures show that police have issued 38 fines for flouting lockdown in the past two weeks.

Officers have thanked residents for their efforts over the past week to keep themselves and the country safe in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Constable, BJ Harrington, said: “I’m really pleased to report that we’ve had more than 10,000 engagements with members of the public since the beginning of April, and, in total, fines have been issued to just one in every 11,000 people in Essex.

“Our Police Officers, Community Support Officers, and Special Constables have been patrolling day-in and day-out, supported by the many hundreds of dedicated police support staff in Essex.

“In the overwhelming majority of cases, those on the front line have found that a friendly conversation with the people they have met has been all that’s needed to explain why it has been so important to avoid unnecessary journeys.

“New national statistics tell us that, across the UK, more than half of those who have been fined were already known to the Police in their area.

"In Essex, of the very few people arrested - 18 in total as of Monday 11 May – many were likely to have been arrested anyway due to their behaviour towards the people of Essex or towards our Officers, who are out protecting and serving the county 24/7.

“We will always stick to the four Es: explain, engage, and encourage, before any enforcement of the law. The law is the only thing we can enforce, but we can encourage people to follow the guidelines.

“Once again, thank you to everyone who has stayed home up until now, and helped to save lives.

“As always, our thoughts are with frontline colleagues in the NHS and in social care, and the key workers and volunteers who have been supporting our local communities during this challenging time.

“Our job is to protect and serve the people of Essex, catch criminals and keep you all safe, and we know that the new phase we are entering this week is a crucial time to get businesses back on their feet.

"We’ll be out patrolling this weekend and over the Bank Holiday to tackle any criminals who may seek to take advantage of the situation through anti-social behaviour or by attempting to carry out more serious crimes.”

Report crime on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.