Warring neighbours are using coronavirus to make ‘deliberately false reports’ to police about rule breaches, it has been revealed.
Police have asked the public to stop exploiting the pandemic to settle feuds by making calls which are related to ‘ongoing neighbour disputes and nothing to do’ with Covid-19.
‘People have had pops at each other and are using this as an opportunity to try to cause more grief and get officers around to their address,’ a senior police source told the Observer.
The National Police Chiefs Council has now asked the public to ‘exercise common sense and only report well-meaning concerns’ when making calls about their neighbours amid the crisis.
‘Deliberate false reporting, obstruction or misinformation at a time of crisis helps nobody, and risks public safety,’ the College of Policing added. ‘In those cases police will use their discretion in determining whether enforcement action is appropriate.’
Police have asked the public to stop exploiting the pandemic to settle feuds by making calls which are related to ‘ongoing neighbour disputes and nothing to do’ with Covid-19
It was revealed last week that police have issued 3,500 fines relating to the coronavirus pandemic with anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse both on the rise.
West Midlands police had received up to 2,000 calls related to the virus per day until it launched an online service where the public could report alleged breaches of the lockdown measures put in place on March 23.
Police in Manchester reported more than 1,000 calls about barbecues and parties over the Easter bank holiday weekend – but officers said many of these were merely over-zealous and not attempts to misinform the force.
‘People have reported key workers, phoning us to say they are in and out of the car several times a day. Genuine calls, made with good intent, but false,’ a police source added.
Pictured: Police on horses patrol the grounds at Buckingham Palace in London on Thursday
Pictured: A police officer approaches a woman who is sat on a bench at St James’s Park on Thursday
Paul Goodwin, from Warwickshire, set up the Facebook group Covidiots UK to ‘highlight some of the unbelievable behaviour of people’ amid the nationwide lockdown as it enters its fifth week on Monday.
In the group, which has more than 200 members, he described the page as for the ‘naming, shaming and general highlighting of people that can’t seem to stay at home.
‘People that just can’t do as they have clearly been instructed to do.’
He added that so-called ‘corona shaming’ is necessary because ‘we have to support the NHS’ and ‘the quicker we bring this in line and do what we’re supposed to do, the quicker we return to normalcy.’
Some Britons have instead vented online about their neighbours, with one writing on Mumsnet about a group who ‘keep inviting their friends over even though we’re in lockdown.’
Another reported their neighbour, who has recently been in hospital with pneumonia, appears ‘unconcerned about coronavirus as everyday of lockdown her adult daughter and boyfriend have been coming over in the evening.’
One Briton said she had made multiple calls to the police about a neighbour who appeared to be breaking lockdown measures by inviting ‘different lovers round’ to their home
A third was considering naming and shaming their own husband in a village Facebook group for going out ‘at least once a day’ in his sports car.
‘Today he went over to some private land he has access to and did some target shooting with an air rifle,’ the user said. ‘I am actually furious folks.’
Another Briton admitted making multiple calls to the police about a neighbour who appeared to be breaking lockdown measures by inviting ‘different lovers’ to their home.
It comes as the College of Policing released updated guidance on how officers should enforce the lockdown last week.
Officers explained what are considered ‘reasonable’ excuses to leave home, such as buying several days’ worth of food including luxury items.
The list issued by the National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing also says people should be allowed to collect surplus basic food items from a friend.
It also permits providing support to vulnerable people or moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling-off’ following arguments at home.
Other permitted acts include buying a small amount of a staple item or necessity, and purchasing tools to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather.
They can also stop to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk, or drive to the countryside and walking – where far more time is spent walking than driving.
Employees are allowed to travel to work whether or not they are key or essential staff, as long as it is not reasonably possible to work from home.
However, police say it is not reasonable for people to go out to buy paint and brushes, simply to redecorate a kitchen.
Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise is also banned, as is a short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period.
In addition, police say a person should not work in a local park if they can work from home, and no one should be knocking on doors offering cash-in-hand work.
They also say that visiting a vet’s surgery in person to renew a prescription where this could be done over the phone is also banned.
Furthermore, visiting a friend in their home or meeting in public to socialise is also banned under the guidelines after the lockdown was brought in last month.