UK police receive 194,000 calls from lockdown 'snitches'

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Police chiefs says people finding it harder to observe measures the longer they go on

Police say they have received 194,000 calls “snitching” on people alleged to have broken the coronavirus lockdown, and say the draconian measures are getting harder to for people to observe the longer they go on.

The figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) give an insight into how the tough rules, and fears of the virus spreading, have affected communities.

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World news | The Guardian

Police say they have received 194,000 calls “snitching” on people alleged to have broken the coronavirus lockdown, and say the draconian measures are getting harder to for people to observe the longer they go on.

The figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) give an insight into how the tough rules, and fears of the virus spreading, have affected communities.

Sara Glen, a deputy chief constable who is part of the NPCC’s leadership tackling coronavirus, said: “We have members of the public who are coming in on the phones and [via the internet] to report where they’ve got concerns either at gatherings of people that they can see from their locations, or if they think people aren’t adhering to the regulations and that’s actually putting them at risk.”

Some of the calls about lockdown rules allegedly being broken are counted in figures on reports of antisocial behaviour, which surged to around 215,000 in the four weeks to 27 April, compared with about 106,000 in the same period last year.

Glen said concerns were also being raised about what was going on in other people’s households, such as possible domestic or child abuse.

Five weeks since laws enforcing the lockdown began, and with a decision looming about an extension soon, police said it was getting harder for people to comply.

The NPCC chair, Martin Hewitt, said: “I think it is inevitable that people will get restless, this is now quite an extended period of time.”

He said last weekend police saw more traffic and people out, but compliance levels were the same. “I just think there is an inevitability that as the weeks progress, this is harder for people, and we are moving into warmer weather.”

Increasing numbers of fines are being issued for infringing lockdown . In the two weeks to 13 April , which included the long Easter weekend, 4,152 fines were issued in England alone, and in the next fortnight there were 4,725 fines.

Two-thirds of the fines are being given to people aged under 34, and eight out of 10 to men.

Fines start at £60, reduced to £30 for prompt payment, and further breaches can lead to costs doubling each time, to a maximum of £960.

Some 391 people were fined more than once. One person has been fined six times, three people have been fined five times, six people fined four times and 343 fined twice.

Glen said “troublesome spots” include beaches and rural communities in the countryside where people want to walk.

Officers have been accused at times of heavy handedness for setting up checkpoints, shaming people with drones and in some cases getting confused by the new laws, leading to people being wrongly prosecuted or fined.

But Hewitt said so far 0.02% of population had been fined – around one in every 5,000 people – supporting the impression of large-scale adherence to the lockdown, and police leaders believe their policy of enforcement being a last resort has worked.

NPCC figures show a postcode lottery of enforcement. Thames Valley police recorded the highest number of fines, 649, while the biggest force, the Met in London, issued 634. Warwickshire issued 22 fines, the fewest of any force.

Dorset issued 116 but next door in Devon and Cornwall there were 510 fines.


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