Officers in Paignton say parents are accountable during lockdown.
A statement on the Paignton Police Facebook page advises parents they are accountable for their children’s health, education and activities.
And it warns that they will be liable for fines if youngsters breach Government instructions.
They could also be reported for failing to safeguard their children.
The post reminds people of Government rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The instructions state that people cannot leave their homes except for:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible;
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
People should minimise the time away from home and stay two metres apart from anyone outside their household.
The police statement thanked those who were complying, but said there had been reports of people including teenagers and children breaking the rules.
It said: “THIS IS NOT A GAME. The above is an instruction, it is not advisory. We will have legal powers to deal with those people who flout these laws. We can also utilise anti social behaviour legislation to disperse people.
“To all parents, excuses of not knowing what your children are doing will not be accepted.
“Schools are shut, most people are working from home or conducting child care. You are responsible for your children’s education and their activities. Above all, you are responsible for their health and you will be held accountable.
“Potentially, failure to adhere to the above government instructions could be deemed as a failure to safeguard your children and the community in general.
“Partner agencies will be informed where we have concerns about people’s abilities to parent their children properly in this crisis. You will also be liable for any fines that are accrued by your child breaching government instructions.
“Everyone must comply with the above. If you feel this does not apply to you, expect to receive financial sanctions if caught.
“Please share amongst your family and friends. This message must be understood and complied with, for the health of all of us. The quicker we can beat this virus, the quicker we will return to normality.”
A separate statement from Inspector Howard Brugge, of the Paignton and Brixham Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “I would like to think that the majority of the community want us to ensure that the people of Paignton and Brixham comply to best of their ability with the government guidance. This is to save lives, the lives of the elderly and vulnerable.
“I am pleased to say that a majority of people are indeed doing their best to comply with the government guidance. THANK YOU, you are saving lives.
“The people that are flouting the guidance, we will stop you, we will ask you to account for your actions, we will report you, we will fine you. In the coming weeks the government may give stricter powers/guidance you could be arrested and detained or imprisoned.
“We will use common sense whenever possible in dealing with the public, we will ensure our response is lawful, proportionate, accountable and necessary.”