Corona Snitches: Police Create Web Portal to Inform on Neighbours

Police officers break up a group of people who had gathered in Glasgow city centre on March 27, 2020. - Britain is under lockdown, its population joining around 1.7 billion people around the globe ordered to stay indoors to curb the "accelerating" spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN …
ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

A local police force in the United Kingdom has established an online portal for members of the public to inform on people suspected of breaking national lockdown measures.

Humberside Police in northern England has built a website for citizens to inform on their neighbours for violating the government’s rules on daily exercise and social distancing.

The website was crafted after the police force was inundated with reports of alleged violations to their non-emergency phone line, according to ITV.

“Reports will be assessed based on the information provided and we would ask people to please consider the circumstance before making their report,” said Chris Philpott of the Humberside Police.

“However it may be some of the reports are referred on to our partner agencies, our Local Authorities [councils] for example, who could take further action to stop gatherings in certain places,” he added.

Under the lockdown measures implemented by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, citizens permitted to leave home for their daily exercise only once per day, and public gatherings of more than two people, with the exception of families who live in the same household, have been banned.

Those who break the social distancing rules face an initial fine of £60 and £120 for a second offence.

British police forces have been accused of overzealous implementation of the coronavirus measures after they were granted special powers by the government to enforce the lockdown.

In Derbyshire, police released drone footage of a man taking a walk by himself and a middle-aged couple exercising their dog in the rural Peak District, admonishing them for allegedly breaking lockdown rules — although the Cabinet Office subsequently told the Guardian that the rules do not prohibit driving to places like the Peak District for your daily exercise.

A Great Manchester Police team appeared to engage in similar on-the-hoof lawmaking, claiming that exercise was limited to one hour in a tweet that has now been deleted.

Police in North Yorkshire, meanwhile, will be performing random inspections at checkpoints on roads to see if travellers are making “non-essential” trips.

The British public has also gotten in on the act, flooding police call lines with reports of people they believe to be breaking the lockdown measures by, for example, going out for a run twice a day.

Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Ash Tuckley called for citizens to “exercise caution” in their reporting.

Tuckley added that the police have received calls from the public inquiring whether it was illegal for someone to cough without covering their mouth with a tissue. Another person asked: “My wife doesn’t think her job is essential but I do and she’s working from home. Is there anything I can do?”

“We are getting calls from people who say ‘I think my neighbour is going out on a second run – I want you to come and arrest them’,” said Nick Adderley of the Northamptonshire Police per the BBC.

“We have had dozens and dozens of these calls,” he added.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.