People 'losing patience' with neighbours who flout Covid rules, police say

Sergeant Dave Hammatt and Acting Sergeant Ben Towns on patrol in Ipswich's Christchurch Park in Apri

Police in Suffolk will take enforcement action on any Covid rules breaches - Credit: Archant

Police have said they are getting more calls from people losing patience with their neighbours or work colleagues who are persistently flouting Covid rules.

And fixed penalty notices are increasingly being used to tackle the issue.

Deputy chief constable from Suffolk Constabulary, Rachel Kearton, told Friday's local outbreak engagement board meeting of Suffolk leaders that people in Suffolk were largely following the rules and "generally not causing the police service too many headaches".

But neighbours appear less willing to stay quiet if they see regular breaches.

Rachel Kearton from Suffolk Constabulary said Suffolk's vaccine base would be ready from December 1 to take delivery of...

Rachel Kearton from Suffolk Constabulary said people in Suffolk were generally sticking to the rules around Covid-19 - Credit: Archant

"We are beginning to see a number of people phoning us who are losing patience with potentially their neighbours or people they work with who are perhaps continuing to breach the orders that are there for managing the current lockdown," she said.

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"Police advice have been falling and fixed penalty notices have been increasing. What that means is we are responding to more cases and more reports of people gathering or breaching the health order, and instead of giving words of advice we are beginning to give more fixed penalty notices."

Police data for January 12-18 indicated there were 357 Covid-related reports to police, with the two biggest reasons being breach of a health order - instances of people leaving their home for reasons not among the exceptions - at 166 calls, while 135 reports were around gatherings.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said those who contravened restrictions needed to face the consequences. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced new fines for those attending gatherings which flouted Covid-19 rules, as well as organisers - Credit: Archant

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Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday night announced that people attending illegal gatherings of more than 15 people would be fined £800, marking a step up from efforts just to fine event organisers.

Babergh District Council leader John Ward raised concerns it  was "sending a message to people that a house party of less than 15 is tolerated," but police said the new fines would be used in addition to existing powers.

"We have had very few of these gatherings, so I don't see that changing," Rachel Kearton said.

"This is over and above the existing powers that we already have, so this is in addition to all the other things that are there for anyone meeting in a house between one extra person who doesn't live in a household up to 14.

Babergh Conservative leader John Ward said it was a good step for the councils to take. Picture: SAR

Babergh District Council leader John ward said gatherings of less than 14 would not be tolerated - Credit: Archant

"This is an opportunity to actually hold everyone to account who attends an event. 

"I understand the concern about the messaging, but because it is over and above what we already have and we don't already have a problem in Suffolk I think it will be entirely manageable in our current strategy." 

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