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Brits told they should call police on neighbours breaking 'rule of six'

A minister has said concerned Brits should call the police on their neighbours if they see them breaking the new ‘rule of six’ law.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said the non-emergency 101 police phone number can be used to report any social gatherings of more than six people.

People face fines of up to £3,200 if they do not abide by the new measure, which comes into force in England today, and applies to both indoor and outdoor settings.

Mr Malthouse told the BBC: ‘We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.

‘Certainly during the initial stage of lockdown, we did see a surge in those reports coming through to the police.

‘If people are concerned, if they do think there is contravention then that option is open to them.’

Pressed on whether that would involve reporting a gathering of seven or more in a neighbour’s garden, Mr Malthouse said: ‘It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number and if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it.’

Asked to clarify whether residents should be concerned about local breaches of law in neighbouring properties and report them to the police, he replied: ‘Yes.’

Mr Malthouse said first-time offenders found to have breached the ‘rule of six’ restrictions should not be fined.

Asked whether instances of people gathering in groups of seven or more, and from different households, should be met with a £100 fine per person, Mr Malthouse told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘No, police should start with encouraging them to comply and explaining to them what the situation is and impressing upon them the duty they have towards our collective health.

‘Only in the situation where individuals refuse to comply should police consider moving towards enforcement.’

He said guidance for police officers would be made available ‘in the next couple of days’ from the College of Policing on how to apply the new regulations.

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