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How police forces across the UK will enforce Covid rules over Christmas

What action police will take in different regions
A number of police forces will crack down on coronavirus regulations over Christmas if the rules are broken (Picture: MailOnline / Getty Images)

A number of police forces from across the UK revealed they will crack down on coronavirus regulations over Christmas if the rules are broken.

It comes after a YouGov poll found nearly one in five families said they will ‘ignore’ the rule of six over the festive period.

MailOnline asked England and Wales’ 43 constabularies how they will approach rulebreakers – and the results showed huge differences across the board.

Forces in some areas – particularly those in the higher tiers of restrictions – say they will enforce the rules if necessary, such as in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the West Midlands and London.

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Approach is likely to be softer in some areas – particularly those in tier one – with Norfolk, Cumbria, Hertfordshire, and Devon and Cornwall forces saying they would be ‘sensible and fair’ and did not mention enforcement.

But some forces say they are unable to plan their tactics, because they have no idea what tier their area will be in by Christmas.

It comes after a top police officer fears civil unrest across the UK as he warns parties will be broken up during Christmas, Hanukkah and Diwali.

And another police chief said members of the public have a ‘civic duty’ to report neighbours and businesses flouting the restrictions.

Map showing how policed areas across the UK will be
Map showing how policed areas across the UK will be over the festive period (Picture: MailOnline)

A YouGov poll revealed just 68% of respondents would abide by the rule of six over the festive period.

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: ‘We understand that this is a period where people want to be with their loved ones, celebrating this holiday.

‘We police against the regulations that are in law, and everybody has their part to play to help protect local communities and loved ones and we are confident people will adhere to the rules and help us to reduce the risk of transmission.

‘The police’s approach remains to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules in the first instance and enforce as a last resort, where there are clear breach of the rules taking place.’

The areas which will ‘enforce if necessary’

A spokesperson for Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy added: ‘Enforcement is always a last resort but will be used where necessary.’

Results of the YouGov poll
Results of the YouGov poll show only 68% of people would abide by the rule of six (Picture: YouGov)

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and commissioner, already said on Tuesday officers would investigate reports of rule-breaking over the festive period.

‘If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene,’ he said.

‘If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.’

Greater Manchester Police and the Metropolitan Police Service also directed enquiries to a statement confirming they could ‘enforce as a last resort’.

The areas which will be ‘sensible and fair’

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said legal gatherings of six were still possible.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 28 Undated handout photo issued by John Lewis showing a shop assistant decorating a Christmas tree. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday October 28, 2020. See PA story CONSUMER Christmas. Photo credit should read: Paul Grover/John Lewis/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Police forces in some areas say they will use their powers if there is ‘flagrant breaking of the rules’ (Picture: PA)

‘Exceptions to the rule of six include support bubbles, so even if there’s no change to the regulations by Christmas people will be able to gather with support bubbles that could include an adult who lives by themselves or an adult with children under the age of 18,’ she explained.

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‘Just as I have done with my mum. Christmas is a really important time of year, it can also be a time of huge stress for people, and while many are enjoying themselves we also see annual increases in levels of domestic violence and suicide.

‘I’d urge people to make sensible, practical plans for the Christmas break that take account of the rules that protect our most vulnerable, but also those who might experience bouts of loneliness.

‘It’s also a tough time of year for emergency services workers, who will be working while others relax and enjoy themselves.

‘We can all make their lives easier by obeying by the simple regulations set out by Government.

CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 27: Christmas items with tape across them in a Cardiff Bay Home Bargains store on October 27, 2020, in Cardiff, Wales. Pressure has mounted on the Welsh Government to reverse the decision to prohibit supermarkets from selling 'non-essential' items such as clothes and microwaves during the 'firebreak' lockdown period with a petition being submitted to the Senedd with over 66,000 signatures. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Could coronavirus cause Christmas to be cancelled? (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are low risk counties in terms of Covid-19 risk and so providing people are sensible and respectful, we will be welcoming visitors from parts of the country with similarly low infection rates.’

The areas unable to answer

Police approach in other areas was not as clear, with some forces unable to answer for varying reasons.

Northumbria Police said: ‘This isn’t something we would be able to comment on at this time as we do not know which restrictions will be in place over the Christmas period.

‘Our officers will continue to follow the national guidance and police using their common sense, like they have throughout the pandemic.’

South Wales Police insisted their tactics would be informed by Government policy at the time of the season.

‘It will depend on what restrictions are introduced by Welsh or UK government at the time,’ a spokesperson added.

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Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Cleveland Police also said their approach would depend on what tier setting their districts were placed in.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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