coronavirus hotline

Police are encouraging Brits to snitch on their neighbours if they leave the house more than once.

Humberside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and Avon and Somerset Police have created a mixture of ‘hotlines’ and ‘online portals’ where people can submit tip-offs if anyone is suspected of breaking the lockdown rules.

Nosy neighbours are being asked to fill out an online form specifying the nature of the alleged violations. 

The hotlines have been set up to report supposed violations committed by individuals, groups, or businesses to police, and provide officers with the specific address, date, and time of the incident. 

Those trying to adjust to life under the coronavirus lockdown are being fined by police officers if they are thought to be in violation of the measures. 

The Humberside’s Head of the Force Control Room said: “We are aware there will be individuals who choose not to adhere and understandably, people do want to report this type of behaviour to us as it is risking lives. 

“The online portal has been developed precisely for reports of this nature, where groups have been seen gathered, and has a dedicated team who will receive the report as soon as it is made.”

Civil liberties campaigners have accused Derbyshire and Lincolnshire Police of zealotry after they deployed drones to spy upon people who are making what they deem to be ‘non-essential trips’ like country dog walks. 

Liberty’s Director Martha Spurrier said: “This new law is without doubt the biggest restriction on our individual and collective freedoms in a generation. What people may not realise is the extent of its powers, and how long they can be in place for.  

“It gives the authorities new powers to detain any one of us that they deem to be potentially infected with the coronavirus. It also removes vital safeguards in care standards, leaving many people who are already at risk, such as disabled people, at further risk, not only of poor care but also of potentially inhumane treatment. This legislation… runs to more than 300 pages and includes some spectacular restrictions, including powers to rearrange or cancel elections.

“We’ll beat this virus, but these measures must be a last resort in that battle and these powers must be removed as soon as possible. We cannot and must not sacrifice all of our hard-won rights and freedoms.”

However, GMP’s Chief Constable Ian Hopkins added: “We are currently facing a very unique situation and this week has been another challenging one for Greater Manchester Police as we adapt our policing style to ensure that we are providing an effective service. 

“As with any other large organisation, we have seen a considerable number of our workforce self-isolating or off sick, which can place an additional strain on reduced resources. The calls coming into our control room which require an urgent response have reduced; however we are seeing an increase in the number of reports relating to potential breaches of Government guidelines on social distancing and isolation.

“You may have seen comments I made in the media earlier this week advising what our approach to potential breaches will be. Our initial approach will be to engage with any person or licensed premises found not abiding the guidelines before explaining why these rules are important and encouraging them to follow them. If they are not compliant, then as a last resort we will move to an enforcement stage using the appropriate legislation to review licenses or issue fixed penalty notices.

“We will continue to support and work closely with you and will continue to police by consent, but we will enforce the emergency legislation brought in this week where necessary.”

Government advisers said stricter social distancing policies may be rolled out in three weeks as the outbreak reaches its peak to further reduce ‘person-to-person interaction’.

This week France announced that individuals could only exercise alone – unless with children – for a maximum of an hour and within 1,000 yards of their homes. Spain and Italy have banned exercise altogether, and there are concerns Britons are deliberately misinterpreting the guidance by travelling to beauty spots miles from home.

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