Lincolnshire Police are receiving around 30 calls a day from self-appointed COVID watchdogs reporting businesses or neighbours for allegedly breaching lockdown rules.
The figure is up from around six or seven a day pre-lockdown and are adding to the force’s demand, according to Chief Superintendent Paul Timmins who is leading the COVID response group Lincolnshire Resilience Forum.
This weekend (November 13-16) Lincolnshire Police issued 13 fines across the county, including seven to people suspected to be hare coursing — though there was no substantive criminal offence being carried out, so they had to use COVID legislation to disperse them.
This was down slightly from last weekend when 17 fines were handed out.
However, it appears there’s some confusion over guidelines as more businesses are able to open legitimately this time round.
C/Supt Timmins said people were obviously thinking they shouldn’t be open and calling police, who were having to go and look at the business.
“The legislation allows for quite a few types of businesses to be open, so what we’re finding is unlike last time when it was literally just supermarkets but nothing else, there’s a lot more that can be this time round.
“A lot of people who are calling with good intent aren’t really understanding that sometimes.”
However, on the flip-side, he said there were businesses looking to bend the rules to stay open — for example, he said one hardware store (not able to open) had put up some shelves and were selling food including chocolate bars.
“Actually in those circumstances that’s not allowed and we go in to sort those places out with Trading Standards and try to explain to them and we are getting a number of calls around that.”
He added: “While we really do understand the pressure that local businesses are going to be under now […] that sort of practice isn’t helpful at all and is starting to cause quite a lot of disgruntlement within the business community about those who are playing by the rules and those that aren’t.”
He said there was a business support cell within the LRF for those with questions.