The police 101 reporting line is being swamped by callers informing on neighbours breaking the government’s anti- coronavirus “rule of six”.
In fact, extra staff have had to be drafted in because the number of calls has increased so dramatically.
Senior police sources have said that some people are reporting neighbours without good reason – just because they have a grudge against them.
Others are calling because they’re not sure about the rules, and don’t know whether they’re breaking them or not.
Senior officers say resources have been stretched increasingly thin, with crime returning to pre-lockdown levels after a sharp fall in March and April.
A senior officer told The Times : “There are discussions about how the 101 system can cope, and whether increased resources need to be looked at across the board.
“We don’t want a situation where people calling about Covid-19 breaches are blocking others from getting through about other serious crimes.”
One force in Wales said it was being inundated with unnecessary calls about Covid-19.
Chief Superintendent Mark Hobrough from Gwent police told the South Wales Argus that the force’s 101 line had received hundreds of calls from residents who want to “seek advice or guidance they aren’t breaching the regulations”.
He said: “We’re very much trying to point people to the Welsh government and Public Health Wales sites for up-to-date advice and answers to frequently asked questions. It will help us deal with policing demands rather than be tied up in other ways.”
Another officer expressed concerns that a focus on minor lockdown breaches could pull police resources away from burglaries and robberies, pointing out that crimes like that tend to increase “when the economy takes a nosedive.”
They added, though, that police will try to combine both duties as best they could: “You won’t see dedicated police Covid patrols, there isn’t the resource,” they said.
“However, officers will step up checks on people and issue fines while they are doing other things.”
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