16,000 lockdown breach allegations in Hampshire as family, neighbours and communities report each other

NEARLY 16,000 lockdown breaches have been reported in Hampshire since restrictions started three months ago.

By Ben Fishwick
Saturday, 13th June 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 10:23 am

Police have deployed 725 officers to more than 470 incidents, with repeated reports about people or areas used to guide where patrols are conducted.

It comes as large groups of youths started to congregate on Southsea Common even before lockdown was eased to allow six people to gather while socially distanced.

Brawls have broken out as groups breached restrictions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

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Large crowds gathering on Southsea Common. Picture: @Holistic.Trash

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown on March 23, barring people from leaving their homes unless once for exercise, commuting for work, health reasons or for shopping. Measures have since been relaxed.

Forces in England have been running localised online reporting tools for people to report any breaches.

Hampshire encouraged anyone to report a ‘serious breach’ such as large outdoor gatherings or house parties involving other households mixing.

Incidents reported have mostly related to parties, barbecues and large groups of teenagers not distancing, The News understands.

Hampshire police and crime commissioner told The News early reports did include neighbours and family members reporting each other when there were ‘pre-existing tensions’ between them,

‘In the early days we got lots and lots of reports of people who felt they were observing rules but their neighbour wasn’t and sometimes there may have been pre-existing neighbour, street or family tensions,’ he said.

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Mr Lane added: ‘I believe Hampshire Constabulary is among the best at understanding doing the three Es, engage, encourage, educate, and those three give you context.

‘If you have context you are better able to appropriately enforce and avoid some of the pitfalls of creating more fuss than you’re resolving appropriately.’

Mr Lane admitted the restrictions had initially been ‘not fully enforceable’ as ‘members of the public would like them to be'.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: ‘All reports are risk assessed, and retrospective reports are not suitable for deployment.

‘However, reports are collated and repeat locations and hotspot areas are identified to inform our patrol plans.

‘This means we have been able to be proactive about tackling ongoing suspected breaches.’

Assistant chief constable Scott Chilton previously said officers would educate and encourage people to follow the rules, before any action was taken.

Hampshire officers have issued 261 fixed penalty notices. The fines have increased to £100 since the measures started.

The spokesman added: ‘Since government restrictions were put in place, we have had a total of 15,775 requests through our dedicated Covid-19 online portal.

‘Of these, we have responded to 471 incidents, deploying a total of 725 officers.’

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