Police receive nearly 140 calls about Covid breaches during sunny weekend

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones from Suffolk police

ACC Rob Jones from Suffolk police - Credit: Suffolk police

Nearly 140 calls were made to Suffolk police over the weekend with reports of people not following social distancing rules, gathering at DIY stores and visiting holiday homes. 

Assistant chief constable Rob Jones said officers had a busy weekend with the arrival of the warmer weather and the recent news of the government's "roadmap" out of the lockdown.

Currently, people are only allowed to meet one person from another household outside and should not travel outside their local area unless absolutely necessary for work or in emergencies.

However, Mr Jones said the force received 138 calls from Saturday through to Sunday, with members of the public reporting others for breaking the lockdown rules in place. 

"There was quite a mix of calls which ranged from people not maintaining social distancing, people staying at holiday homes, lots of people in public spaces especially in the warmer weather and sometimes people gathering at DIY stores," he said. 

"Our message is that the danger remains, and the rules remain. If somewhere feels unsafe when you get there, don't go and let us know."

Mr Jones told BBC Radio Suffolk that they issued a higher number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) than the two previous weekends, adding that the number of fines has increased in this third lockdown. 

Suffolk police has now administered more than 750 FPNs, with most of these being issued since the last lockdown began in late December 2020.

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Officers handed out 454 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in the eight weeks between December 20 and February 14, according to new figures.

Previously, from March until that point, there had been 315 fines - meaning the overall number has more than doubled to 769 fines in recent months.

Over the weekend, Mr Jones said DIY stores were particularly busy with many people using their time in lockdown to make improvements and maintain their homes. 

He described this as a "natural" thing to do but explained that many people are having the same idea and these places can become dangerous, urging people to stay away. 

"What I worry about are the smaller stretches of the law that loads of people are doing, such as the small gatherings and seeing old friends, these are the points of danger," he said. 

"We understand we need to be firmer, and we will move to enforcement more quickly to make sure the message gets across."