CHESHIRE Police’s chief constable has urged residents to ‘think very carefully’ about their actions as lockdown measures are eased.

Darren Martland has also praised members of the public for playing their part so far in keeping the county safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The police chief said: “The community spirit shown by residents across Cheshire during the lockdown has been remarkable, and I want to thank every single person who has played their part in helping to keep the nation safe.

“It has been really encouraging to see that the vast majority of residents have been sticking to the guidelines and, from today, we really need to ensure that this continues.

“Many are now able to spend more time outdoors, and it is really important that people take personal responsibility, know what the remaining regulations are and think very carefully about where they are going and how they will be able to keep their distance from others in order to keep everyone safe.

“In England, the police role has changed as public health regulations have changed.

“We police by consent, and our overall aim is to continue to encourage and support our local communities to comply fully with the remaining restrictions that are in place.

“Our officers will continue to engage with the public, talking from a safe distance, explain the remaining measures and what they mean and encourage people to do the right thing and abide by them of their own accord.

“We will use common sense and discretion to determine what is reasonable.

“Officers do not want to have to use enforcement powers but it is right that they are still able to take action against those who disregard the rules and, in doing so, are potentially putting people at risk.

“It is important to remember that officers across Cheshire are working hard to keep everyone safe in what remain challenging circumstances, and we all need to work together to get through this.

“I want to reassure all residents that we are here to serve and protect and maintain the best service to the public, and we will continue to work as hard as we can alongside our partners to keep you safe, protect our officers and staff and support the nationwide response.”

The force has also reminded the public that different regulations are in place in Wales, which borders Cheshire.

Police and crime commissioner David Keane added: “It is still very much necessary to keep some of the lockdown measures in place in order to stop the spread of the virus, protect our NHS and save lives.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with how, so far, the vast majority of Cheshire residents have abided by the restrictions and I would like to thank them for their efforts.

“This has enabled enforcement actions to be kept to the absolute minimum, with Cheshire Police first adopting the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging the public to abide by the measures before using enforcement – but the chief constable has my full support in instructing officers to take strong action against those that flaunt the regulations and put innocent, vulnerable people and ultimately the NHS at risk.

“In my role as police and crime commissioner, I will continue to monitor the policing of the new measures via weekly meetings with the chief constable.”