Watch: Policing Minister encourages members of the public to report those who break new lockdown rules
Consider calling the police if you are concerned that your neighbours are breaking the new coronavirus “rule of six” in England, a minister has said.
It is illegal to meet in a group of more than six people from Monday, inside or outside, with possible fines of up to £3,200 for those who flout the law. There are exceptions for certain events like funerals or organised sport.
Minister for Crime and Policing Kit Malthouse suggested calling the non-emergency number to report people who break the rule if someone has worries about a gathering.
The policing minister told BBC Radio 4: “We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be, but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.”
Speaking about whether that could include reporting a group of seven or more meeting in a neighbour’s garden, Malthouse said: “It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number, and if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it.”
He has also told Times Radio that he cancelled his child’s birthday party to avoid breaking the rule, which was introduced after a spike in cases.
When asked whether people should report neighbours who breach coronavirus rules, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “What we want people to be focused on is following the new rules and ensuring that they, themselves, help again as they have in the past to slow the spread of the virus.
Watch: Revellers head out before rule of 6 comes into force
“What you have seen in recent weeks is some egregious flouting of the rules, such as the holding of large illegal parties, and members of the public have been contacting the police about those because they have been concerned about the risk to public health.”
Daily reported infections have begun climbing above 3,000. Sunday’s total of 3,330 meant it was the first time since May that three consecutive days saw a rise of more than 3,000.
The R number – the reproduction number of coronavirus transmission – has risen to at least 1 in the UK. The outbreak is growing if the number rises above 1.
Police will be able to disperse gatherings of more than six people and issue fines ranging from £100 to £3,200.
The idea of COVID marshals, who would help with ensuring social distancing is being observed, has also been mentioned by Boris Johnson.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt denied that police enforcement of the rule needed people to be “grassing up” neighbours.
“We all have a responsibility to do what we can do, to take the steps that are required to stop the transmission and to abide by regulations so we can prevent this disease moving further through the country,” he told BBC Breakfast.
He added: “We work with all our partners in local authorities, people who are running shops, people who are running other hospitality areas, we are part of the group that are trying to explain to members of the public what the rules are and encouraging people to comply with them.”
Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who leads the the force’s response to coronavirus, said officers will be patrolling public spaces and respond when big groups meet.
“Where people just won’t listen, and are putting everyone at risk, we absolutely will take enforcement action,” he said.
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