GWENT Police officers will be "proportionate and understanding" during the coronavirus lockdown, but will take action against people who are ignoring government advice, the chief constable has said.

Following the prime minister's lockdown announcement on Monday evening, police officers will have powers to disperse groups of people who are defying the government ban on groups of people.

"Gwent Police understands that this is a difficult time for people, especially those that are ill, self-isolating, away from loved ones and of course for workers and businesses concerned about the future," Ch Con Kelly said today.

She said officers in Gwent would continue to patrol in the community while the new legislation was being devised.

"Gwent Police will also be ensuring that people adhere to government guidelines, we will be proportionate and understanding at this time," she said. "However, if we consider that people are ignoring government advice, we will take action. It is essential that we protect all our communities, vulnerable people and our NHS.

"It is a frustrating time for young people who are not in school or college. However, we urge young people not to congregate in groups, as this is dangerous for our communities and the spread of coronavirus."


The chief constable thanked people for supporting the emergency services and NHS and said: "We are a great community here in Gwent and I am sure that people will work with us for the greater good."

The prime minister's announcement on Monday has led to calls from some senior UK officers for more clarification on how a lockdown should be police.

Boris Johnson has threatened people who flouted the rules with fines.

In parts of England, police chiefs warned of phone lines being inundated with calls after Mr Johnson’s statement, with questions about what movements are still permitted.

Northamptonshire Police chief constable Nick Adderley urged the public not to “cripple our phone” lines with inquiries on the PM’s announcement.

And West Midlands Police chief constable Dave Thompson said the force was “already receiving many calls on potential breaches of these arrangements”.

In Gwent, Ch Con Kelly said the force would keep residents updated on developments, including on what the new legislation would mean for the police and the public.

She said there was "no need" to call 101 or 999 for updates – Gwent Police wants to keep those lines available for those most in need and for emergencies.