Police have made only six fines for Clarence over COVID-19 offences
Police have made only six fines for Clarence over COVID-19 offences

Cops praise Clarence COVID behaviour as restrictions ease

LOCAL police are pleased at the recent adherence to COVID-19 restrictions set in place over the past month.

As the first stage of restrictions are lifted, Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Peter Hayes said that most people are now abiding by the rules.

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"We don't have too many issues, and we're monitoring the situation," he said.

Chief Inspector Hayes said the police district had a dedicated COVID team to deal with any issues.

"We've had a massive increase in the amount of incidents we go to due to the COVID rules," he said.

"People will ring up, and we'll investigate, and if for instance there's a group we can go an address those people, and move them on.

DON'T ARGUE: People fined over COVID breaches after lying to police

"The information is getting out there, and we can issue warnings, or take action."

Just six Clarence residents have been fined under the system, with their offences outlined below.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has echoed the praise and reminded everyone that their actions and behaviour may impact the timings for the next stages.

"When Premier Berejiklian outlined the upcoming changes to COVID-19 restrictions in NSW, she included a very important message - our way forward depends on you," the Commissioner said.

"The NSW Police Force was given special powers for the pandemic in the interest of public health and safety - powers that I delegated carefully and am overseeing personally.

"I've been overwhelmingly pleased with community compliance. With 187 charges laid and 1212 PINs issued out of eight million residents, I feel that the community understands the risks of this virus and the role we all must play in protecting each other."


PINGED: $1000 for a case of beer in Clarence COVID fine

The average number of PINs issued per day throughout the month of April was 39, with a peak over the Easter long weekend. So far in May, the average number of PINs issued is nine.

In the last three days, police have issued a total of 14 PINs.

"Based on the 17,000 calls we have had to Crime Stoppers since 17 March, it is also clear that people want everyone to do their bit to stop the spread and soon see some form of normalcy return to life.

"Health experts have said that without a vaccine life can't go back to normal, but if we continue to show high levels of adherence to the Ministerial Directions, we can continue to edge closer to normal life - and hopefully, sooner," the Commissioner said.

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.


Timeline of Penalty Infringement Notices within the Clarence

•On Sunday March 22 a 65-year-old woman returned to Sydney on a flight from Indonesia and was given a direction to self-isolate at home. About 3pm April 1 officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District received information the woman had entered a shopping centre at Grafton. Two hours later, at about 5pm, police located the woman in her car. She told officers she had been to seven separate retail stores that day, including the supermarket. The woman was directed to return home immediately and was issued with a $1000 PIN.

•Officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District stopped an 18-year-old man who was walking with two others and holding a case of beer on Cambridge Street, South Grafton on Friday April 10. Police alleged the man had been given a previous warning about the Public Health Act and failed to provide a reasonable excuse for being away from home. He was issued a $1000 PIN.

•In the early hours of Friday April 10, officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District attended a home on Bligh Street, South Grafton, following reports of a loud party. On arrival, the attendees scattered and after reminding the occupants of the requirements under the Public Health Act, police issued a noise abatement direction. About 8.30am, police spoke to three men - two of which are the occupants of the Bligh Street home - who were drinking together on the corner of Bligh and Cambridge Streets. The men, aged 18, 25 and 27, were reminded they were breaching the Ministerial Directions, and after the older man began swearing and 25-year-old man refused to go home, they were issued with a $500 fine for offensive language and a $1100 fine for continuing intoxication in a public place respectively. All three men were issued with $1000 PINs and sent home.

•Officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District stopped a vehicle on Bent Street, Yamba, about 8.20pm Sunday April 12. When speaking to the driver, a 35-year-old man, police will allege he changed his story for travelling several times and was subsequently issued a $1000 PIN.

•About 5.30pm April 14, officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District were called to Pilot Street, Yamba, following reports of a group of youths in a vehicle creating a disturbance. Officers spoke to a 19-year-old man who said he was driving to visit friends and members of his family. He was issued with a $1000 PIN. He was also charged with breach of bail and appeared at Lismore Local Court on Wednesday April 15).

•About 9pm Tuesday April 14, officers from Richmond Police District located a 30-year-old man on River Street, Ballina. The officer recognised the man from an interaction with him on Tuesday 7 April 2020, where he was warned about returning to his hometown in Maclean. The man was not able to come up with a valid excuse for being in the area, informing police that he simply preferred the location. He was issued with $1000 PIN.

•Just after midday, police from Coffs/Clarence Police District were patrolling South Grafton on Friday April 17 when they noticed a man riding a mountain bike on Vere Street without a helmet. When police spoke to the 42-year-old man he informed officers he had been visiting a friend. Police searched the man and found a small amount of cannabis in his pocket. The man was arrested and taken to Grafton Police Station. He was charged with possess prohibited drug, rider not wear approved helmet and ride bike without working warning devices. He was granted conditional bail and is due to appear in Grafton Local Court on 6 July 2020. It was also ascertained the man had been issued with a warning on 16 April 2020 by Grafton Detectives and was issued with a $1000 PIN.

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