Policing Minister has encouraged residents to call the police on their neighbours if they see them breaking the new ‘rule of six’ law.
Kit Malthouse – Minister of State for Crime, Policing and the Fire Service – made a number of media appearances this morning to state that the non-emergency 101 police phone number can be used to report any social gatherings of more than six people.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Malthouse said: “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.
“Certainly during the initial stage of lockdown, we did see a surge in those reports coming through to the police.
“If people are concerned, if they do think there is contravention then that option is open to them.”
Pressed on whether that would involve reporting a gathering of seven or more in a neighbour’s garden, Mr Malthouse continued: “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.’
When asked to clarify whether residents should be concerned about local breaches of law in neighbouring properties and report them to the police, he replied simply: “Yes”.
It comes as the new ‘rule of six’ is set to be enforceable by law and applies in any setting, whether that’s “indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub.”
Those who do not follow the rules could face a “criminal record“.
National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt however denied that enforcement of the ‘rule of six’ relies on people “grassing up” their neighbours.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “I think what it relies on is all of us being responsible,”
“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.”
Kit Malthouse confirmed that guidance for police officers would be made available “in the next couple of days” from the College of Policing on how to apply the new regulations.