POLICE officers will stop to speak to people who leave their homes and those who are out driving on the roads to make sure they are following government advice - and if necessary issue fines.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that he will give police powers to enforce the instructions to stay at home and disperse gatherings of people.

A meeting between North Yorkshire Police and fire service bosses heard yesterday (Tuesday) that more officers will be on the streets, they will stop and speak to anyone walking around - or driving - to check that they are acting within the guidelines, and that they will issue fines if they have to.

North Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said he is “impatiently waiting” for the powers from government - which could come into force from Thursday or sooner.

He said: “Over the weekend at some of our tourist areas and at the coast we saw some inappropriate and reckless behaviour.

“Don’t be surprised if you are out and about and you are stopped by police and asked what you are doing.

“The public will see a greater police presence. Our job is to make sure people are sticking to the guidelines.”

He added that it is currently “business as usual” for police but that if officer numbers cannot meet growing pressures, the force will bring in contingency plans.

He said staff absence levels are being monitored through the day, and added: “We are well equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE), it has been one of the key priorities. It has been challenging to get that kit out there and to maintain it. But I’m satisfied at the moment that we are protecting our staff sufficiently.”

People are also encouraged to call 101 if they believe government guidelines are being ignored and there is a risk to life.

ACC Walker said: “Yes, we expect the public to call 101 if they do believe there’s a risk. We had it over the weekend with licensed premises and restaurants.

“If we do get inundated with calls we will struggle to deal with it, so please do be sensible.”

People are also urged not to make unnecessary journeys by car. Police, fire and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan said: “We don’t want empty roads to be used as a racetrack. The pressures on the NHS are incredible and we would not want to add to them.”

Chief constable Lisa Winward said people following advice need not worry. She added: “We police by consent and we can only deliver our service through the support of the public.

"Overwhelmingly we want to continue with that community-style policing.”

Andrew Brodie, chief fire officer at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said staff are working from home where possible and added that there had been some difficulties getting hold of personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies.

But he said hygiene products are now being sent to every officer at every fire station.

CFO Brodie told the meeting: “I can provide absolute reassurance that when we receive a 999 call, we respond to it in the normal way. We do minimise contact when we attend incidents.

“We take it extremely seriously and we would encourage the public to take it extremely seriously.”