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Spot fines for Covid rule breaches 'not off the table'

The prospect of spot fines for those who flout Gibraltar’s Covid-19 restrictions "is not off the table" but is not necessary at this time.

The message from Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia was echoed by the Commissioner of Police, Ian McGrail, as they spoke about how such a regime would be a “weapon in the armoury” for the Royal Gibraltar Police in tackling persistent offenders.

Speaking at the 4pm press conference, Mr McGrail said fixed penalty notices were considered in the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown and were mooted as part of the RGP’s forward planning as it examined what “tool kit” it would need to police the new measures.

“We are looking at efficient ways of dealing with this,” he said, adding: “Physically taking people into custody can be very time consuming and it takes officers off the streets and there’s a lot of bureaucracy and paper work to be generated, so fixed penalty notices can circumvent that.”

“However, that was a proactive measure to have in the tool kit as and when it would be required depending on how the community responded to the regulations.”

“I’m happy to say that the Government has taken on board our advice, they’ve prepared for those contingencies in having draft regulations and ready to use if need be,” Mr McGrail said.

“We are working together in this and I am pleased in the way that policing efforts and operations are going so far. I can't dictate the future but if need be I’m sure that if I need to raise the matter for the purpose of efficiency and deterrence then the Government will hear me out.”

Despite this, Mr McGrail said he was pleased with the reports from front line officers that the majority of the population is complying with the emergency regulations.

“The majority of the people are doing the right thing and staying at home, only going out for essential reasons provided for in the emergency regulations,” he said.

“Unfortunately, in parallel to the positive response by the majority of the public, our patrols are still seeing groups of young people out in the evening and at night congregating in estate underground parking areas and the likes.There are some adults doing the same too.”

“I urge and appeal to parents and guardians to speak to the young people in your families and ensure they are aware of the threat this virus poses – the threat does not get more real.”