COVID-19: Teens ignoring social distancing advice

COVID-19: Teens ignoring social distancing advice

Published by Helen Down at 11:59am 28th March 2020. (Updated at 12:01pm 28th March 2020)

4 minute read

Police plea to parents and carers in Salisbury

Officers in the city have spent much of Friday night (27 March) dealing with groups of youths.

There are also reports of teenagers hanging around in Millenium Gardens in Downton and in Tidworth too.

Officers are urging parents and carers to take the time to talk to their children and explain that the governments latest guidance on social distancing is for everyone's protection in the fight against COVID-19.

Whether or not these incidents were deliberate or not police are asking youngsters to do their bit and help reduce the spread of the virus.

This comes as police forces across the UK were given temporary powers last week. 


  • The groups we are being sent to maintaining a distance of 2m from each other (slide tackling your mate whilst playing football, makes this difficult).
  • When we speak to groups of youths, they are not always the first set of people we have spoken to in a 10 hr shift. Often officers will have already been to a number of incidents and spoken to a range of different people.
  • Whilst we have some protective equipment you will see that we are not yet routinely wearing gloves or masks.
  • The incubation period for corona virus can be up to 5 days without people showing symptoms.
  • None of the people we are speaking to know if they, or the people they are with, are carrying corona virus.
  • None of the police officers currently patrolling can definitely state they are not carrying corona virus and our exposure to the public is quite high, while the level of protective equipment we are currently wearing for ‘routine’ incidents is quite low. Your children are as much at risk from us as we are from them if we end up talking to them!
  • As the virus spreads the chances of exposure will become greater everywhere.
  • If your teenager has been out today and ended up speaking to us they will have increased their risk of contracting the virus, on their return home they will then increase the risk to you and everyone else in your household.
  • The vast majority of teenagers in our community are sensible, helpful and probably a bit scared (like all of us). A small minority are reckless, ill-informed or socially irresponsible.
  • I was a teenager for 7 years and a police officer for the last 30. I know that teenagers don’t always listen to the advice the police give them.


Hampshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton has issued a statement about the emergency legislation brought permitting them to fine people not keeping their distance.

"We are in the middle of a national health emergency and we all have a part to play to protect others.

"As a police force, we are no different to anyone else, in that our priority is to reduce the spread of this infection and protect the NHS.

"Our officers have been engaging with people so they understand why they need to be indoors, explaining the risk to public health by not complying, and encouraging them to go home.

"I’m pleased to say that the majority of people understand why this is needed and are following the directions.

"However, where people do not comply, then we will direct people to go home, and, if necessary, we will issue a penalty notice – a fine of £60 in the first instance.

"We see this as a last resort, but we will use our powers if we have to.

"Ultimately, we are all in this together so it’s important that the public listen to the advice as this is about saving lives."

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