Police receive tip off phone calls every five minutes about people flouting coronavirus lockdown rules, chief constable reveals
- Derbyshire police chief Peter Goodman said force had seen rise in tip-off calls
- He said his force were receiving 2,300 calls a day from concerned neighbours
- Comes after Britons continued to flout social distancing guidelines this weekend
The police are being inundated with public tip-off calls about people breaching the Covid-19 social distancing rules every five minutes, a police chief has revealed.
Forces have seen a noticeable increase in the number of calls warning them about those refusing to comply with the government’s lockdown guidelines, Derbyshire’s chief constable Peter Goodman told The Telegraph.
The police chief said his own police department, which last month came under fire for using drones to deter hill walkers in the Peak District, were experiencing 2,300 calls a day from concerned neighbours and residents.
Mr Goodman said just over 11 per cent of calls his force were receiving were tip-offs and while some of them were ‘a little misguided’ many the police had received were from ‘concerned members of the public’.
Police departments in the UK have seen a noticeable increase in the number of public tip-off calls warning them about those breaching the government’s lockdown rule. (Stock image)
Derbyshire’s Chief Constable Peter Goodman said his force were experiencing 2,300 calls a day alerting them to those who were flouting the social distancing guidelines
He told The Telegraph: ‘Some of it is about things taking place in public spaces, some of it a bit more about people entertaining at their home addresses
‘We do believe some of [the tip-offs] are a little misguided, a little of it may be malicious, getting your own back on your neighbours.
‘But the vast majority of it has been about concerned members of the public doing the responsible thing.’
Meanwhile in West Yorkshire, chief constable John Robbins said he too had seen a rise in the number of calls his force were receiving from concerned residents alerting the police to those who were breaching the government’s restrictions.
In order to manage the surge in public tip-offs, some forces in the country have created online services which allow users to enter the address of those flouting lockdown.
Last month, Humberside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Avon and Somerset Police announced that they had set up an online portal which would enable people to report the alleged breach after an increase in the number of non-emergency 101 calls left the police overstretched.
Mr Goodman’s comments come after his police force came under fire for using ‘overzealous’ tactics to enforce the lockdown last month.
In March his police force used drones to film hill walkers in the Peak District and poured black water dye into the Blue Lagoon in Buxton to deter visitors at the beauty spot.
Some police forces have created online services which allow users to enter the address of those flouting lockdown. (Stock image)
This weekend people continued to flout the social distancing guidelines as temperatures peaked at 20C. Pictured: Revellers walk through Battersea Park in London on April 5
Police officers stop drivers on a street in North Yorkshire and ensure that their travel is ‘essential’
Despite widespread criticism, the police chief later defended his methods and argued that they had tried to do everything through conversation and explanation.
He told BBC Radio 5: ‘Some forces will be doing not enough, perhaps, some forces have probably gone a bit too far and some sit in the middle. Some would say we in Derbyshire have gone too far.
‘I genuinely believe that we haven’t because we are trying to do everything through conversation and explanation.’
This weekend Britons across the nation continued to flout social distancing guidelines to flock to the country’s sun-soaked parks and beaches.
Despite government warnings, revellers were seen descending upon London’s Battersea Park and Greenwich park to embrace the warm weather.
Meanwhile in the capital’s Regent’s Park, officers were stopping those who had chosen to leave their homes and flout government rules.
Last month Derbyshire police poured black dye into Buxton’s blue lagoon in order to deter visitors
The scenes came just hours before Health Secretary Matt Hancock backtracked on a threat to ban outdoor exercise if people did not comply with the coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Hancock, who earlier during the day blasted sunbathers for flouting the rules and warned the government would ban ‘all forms’ of public exercise if a ‘small minority’ refuse to stay at home, later updated his comments at the daily Downing Street press conference.
The politician said the end of lockdown would be determined by ‘how much people follow the rules on social distancing’ and issued a direct plea to people who are ‘breaking the rules or are pushing the boundaries’, telling them: ‘You are risking your own life and the lives of others and you are making it harder for us all.’
Coronavirus lockdown: Can you leave your home and what are your rights?
– When did the laws come into force?
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 were introduced in England on Thursday at 1pm.
Similar versions of the laws were enacted in Wales at 4pm and in Scotland at 7.15pm on the same day, as well as at 11pm on Saturday in Northern Ireland.
– Why have the rules been enacted?
The England regulations state they are made ‘in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health’ posed by Covid-19.
– Can I leave my house?
According to the legislation: ‘During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.’
A reasonable excuse includes: getting food and medical supplies for yourself, members of the same household and vulnerable people, getting money, to exercise and for essential work.
You can also leave your house to: give blood, attend a funeral (in some cases), meet bail conditions, go to court and take part in legal proceedings, move house and to ‘avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm’.
But public gatherings of more than two people are banned apart from for members of the same household who are currently living together. There are some exceptions along similar lines as above.
– How often can I go out?
The law does not specify – or limit – how many times per day someone can leave their house for any of these reasons.
The Government advice is to exercise once a day but the law does not say how many times a day this is allowed to happen.
– Can I go for a drive?
The Government urged people to ‘stay local’ when out exercising and only use open spaces near their homes where possible, keeping at least two metres apart from anyone they do not live with.
Some police forces said the public should not go out for a drive or use their car to travel to exercise.
But the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said there is nothing ‘definitive’ in the legislation on this, although it urged the public to be ‘sensible’.
The legislation does not address the use of cars or vehicles at all and does not forbid members of the public from using their cars to ‘go for a drive’ or travel to a location by car to exercise.
It states petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, taxi companies and car parks can all remain open, albeit with restrictions.
– Can I go shopping, and what can I buy?
The legislation says you can leave the house to obtain ‘basic necessities’ like ‘food’.
The law does not define what constitutes ‘food’ and does not specify what type of food, drink or other items are permissible when shopping.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘If a shop is allowed to remain open then it will of course sell whatever items it has in stock.’
The law says supermarkets, corner shops, off licences, hardware stores, pet shops and post offices can all remain open.
– What can the police do?
Officers can take action to enforce the requirements of the legislation if they ‘reasonably believe’ someone is in contravention as long as the decision is ‘necessary and proportionate’.
They can order someone to go home, leave an area, have the power to disperse a group and remove someone using ‘reasonable force, if necessary’.
Officers can also take steps to make sure parents are stopping their children from breaking the rules.
Police can arrest someone refusing to comply and issue £60 fines – reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. The fine doubles to £120 for a second offence and would continue to rise each time to a maximum of £960.
Those who do not pay could be taken to court.
You could also be arrested for refusing to provide your name and address to avoid being given a fine.
The NPCC told forces to take a ‘common sense approach’ to policing the rules and use enforcement action as a last resort while Downing Street said police officers should use ‘their own discretion’ in enforcing the measures.
– What else do the rules say?
The law defines a vulnerable person as someone who is aged 70 or older, anyone aged under 70 who has an underlying health condition and anyone who is pregnant.
Underlying health conditions include: chronic long-term respiratory diseases like asthma, kidney and heart disease, hepatitis, Parkinson’s, diabetes, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, a learning disability or cerebral palsy, HIV, Aids, cancer, and obesity.
– How long will the rules be in force?
The emergency laws must be reviewed at least once every 21 days, starting on April 15, and will remain in place until they are scrapped by the Government. Ultimately they can expire after six months if not renewed.
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