The Snitching Begins: Nosey Neighbour Calls Police on Wake in Pub Garden

Surprised man with binoculars. Curious guy with big eyes. Nosy neighbour stalking or snooping secrets, gossip and rumour. Silly funny face. Shocked about unbelievable news. - stock photo
iStock/Getty Images

Britons have already starting snitching on each other over perceived breaches of the coronavirus ‘rule of six’, with one woman grassing on people at a wake in a pub garden.

Ministers this week had urged members of the public to inform on their neighbours if they were suspected of gathering in groups of larger than six. Home Secretary Priti Patel even said that two families bumping into each other in the street and stopping for a chat could be against the law.

One woman thought that it was her “public duty” to inform on a group of mourners at a wake in the garden of a pub in Wigston, Leicestershire.

Police officers visited the Old Crown on Wednesday unannounced after calling the pub landlady Sue Humphries twice to check that groups of mourners were not getting too close to each other, according to The Mirror. Police asked some groups be moved from the back of the pub to the front, but otherwise, the landlady said, they believed that no rules had been broken.

The informant justified calling the police on the some 30 people gathering to mark the passing of a loved one, telling the newspaper on Thursday: “I was concerned at what I saw.

“There appeared to be a large group of people drinking outside the pub and they looked quite close to each other.

“I felt I had to alert the police in case rules were being broken.

“I felt it was my public duty to report this and I would do the same again.”

She had also admitted to taking video footage of the mourners.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to row back the hard line on reporting on your neighbours, but it appears that some had already received the original message.

The prime minister said: “I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself.

“What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours.”

He did, however, back people calling the police “if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of their neighbour’s activities — if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health then it’s reasonable for the authorities to know”.

While the likes of Steve Baker have called for the end of laws that curtail the rights of citizens, it would appear that freedom is going out of style, with recent surveys showing that Britons largely back curfews, the new coronavirus law, and the general culture of fear.

In a series of YouGov surveys from the past two weeks, 69 per cent back a 9 pm curfew on pubs, 77 per cent support the ‘rule of six’, 73 per cent are worried about a second wave of coronavirus, and 74 per cent do not think that the public is taking the pandemic seriously enough.

The fear and support for an authoritarian British state may have been by design, though. Initially, YouGov polling from March 13th found that most Britons were not scared of contracting the virus. The government thought this was problematic, with a briefing note from March 22nd stating that “the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent” including “using hard-hitting emotional messaging”.

“To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat,” it added.

.

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