How will the ‘rule of six’ be enforced in Suffolk?

Assistant chief constable Rob Jones Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Assistant chief constable Rob Jones Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

People should speak to their neighbours who are breaking rule of six limits first before reporting them, the assistant chief constable of Suffolk police has said.

ACC Rob Jones said he would encourage people who have a good relationship with their neighbours to “knock on the door” rather than going directly to police.

The new guidelines, which came into force this week, apply across indoor and outdoor settings, with police able to disperse gatherings of over six people and fine individuals involved.

ACC Jones said: “I know there’s been a lot of debate about what to do if you’re seeing a breach from your neighbours and whether you should go and challenge them directly, and I think it depends on the relationship with your neighbours.

“Often it will be appropriate to knock on the door and explain about the need for the rules rather than coming directly to the police.

“Lots of us have very good relationships with our neighbours and are able to knock on the door, just as you would if there was loud music playing.

“So we wouldn’t want to discourage people from a neighbourly solution and they don’t need to go straight to the police if they’ve got that relationship.

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“I think the most important thing is the preventative message that this is a measure that has been brought in to keep everyone safe and we shouldn’t be taking risks to break that hoping to get away with it.”

MORE: Covid restrictions – the new rules of what you can and can’t doBut ACC Jones said any reports of breaches will be prioritised but the force will be firmer “when required”.

He added: “When we receive reports, we will prioritise them according to the risk and harm. For example, if there’s something happening which is a breach of the rule of six which is causing immediate danger to people then we would go and deal with that immediately.

“If it was someone letting us know about a party from their neighbours which had happened last night and disturbed them then we would probably take a pragmatic view on that, because we have to be realistic about what we can go and do. But we’d still rather know about it so we can understand the scale of the problem.

“But we are set up to do it, we’ve been using the explain and encourage model before we go to enforcement. We’ll use the fines and we’ll use arrests when we need to but enforcement might be where we turn up and tell people to stop, break up a gathering and make a record of it, rather than going straight to sanction.

“So it’s a graduated response still but one where we will be firmer when required.”