A police presence will be visible in Ledbury and throughout the county during lockdown, according to Anthony Bangham, Chief Constable of West Mercia Police.

He issued a statement following the announcement of the new lockdown for the country, brought in to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

The police will be "firm but fair" in using their powers to deal with people who break the lockdown regulations.

Chief Constable Bangham said: “Over the last year the vast majority of people in our communities have kept to the rules and I am confident that they will continue to do so through this new phase of the pandemic.

“West Mercia Police will continue to be visible across our villages, towns and cities working with our partners to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus. As the public would expect, we will respond firmly, but fairly, using all the powers available to us to take action against those people that flout the laws and knowingly put others at risk."

Chief Constable Bangham said: "Policing across West Mercia will continue unabated throughout the lockdown and as the Prime Minster has outlined, help is available to anyone whose home is not a safe place to be.

"We would like to emphasise that we are still here for you 24/7.”

The lockdown is being enshrined in law and police can take action if people leave home without a reasonable excuse.

The police can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

The number of coronavirus cases in Herefordshire have been 'rising dramatically' since mid-December, with the public health chief saying it was expected.

On Monday, Boris Johnson made an address to the nation where he plunged England into its third lockdown in less than 12 months.

In Herefordshire, the acting director of public health has backed the Prime Minister's decision, saying it was the right thing for the county.

Rebecca Howell-Jones said the coronavirus infection rate, the number of cases per 100,000 people, had been rising dramatically over recent weeks.

She said, "Our rate of infection at the minute is 252, if you round it up, and that's the highest we've ever had in Herefordshire. That is lower than other areas, but our cases have risen dramatically since the middle of December."