Policing minister Kit Malthouse has said that people should snitch on their neighbours if they think they are breaking the new coronavirus rules. He said he also hopes to roll out “COVID-secure marshalls” across the country to help enforce public “compliance”.
From Monday, it is illegal for Britons to gather in groups of more than six in public or private, indoors or outside. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week when he announced the measures that people breaking the law would be told to disperse, fined, or even arrested.
BBC Radio 4’s Today host Mishal Husain asked Mr Malthouse today whether people should snitch on their neighbours if they suspect they are breaking the law.
The policing minister responded: “If people are concerned, if they do think there has been a contravention, then that option is open to them.”
“It’s open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number. If they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about that,” Malthouse added.
When explicitly asked if people should call the police on their neighbours, he said bluntly: “Yes.”
Prime Minister Johnson also raised the prospect of introducing “COVID Secure Marshalls” who will “help ensure social distancing in town and city centres”.
Mr Malthouse claimed the marshalls had “proven themselves to be quite useful” in other parts of the country, “engaging” with people in high streets and city centres in “making sure we get good compliance”.
Former Supreme Court judge Lord Jonathan Sumption said that the new rules were unenforceable, writing in a letter to The Sunday Times: “The ban on socialising in groups of more than six is unenforceable except in a Stasi-style surveillance state with a poisonous network of informers.”
Later speaking to LBC, the former senior judge criticised the government for its initially prolonged lockdown, which he said had met its useful end at around April 11th, when the NHS’s intensive care capacity was increased to its peak to cope with the then-projected high number of cases.
The government strategy since May had “lost its way”, the judge said, “when they continued lockdown after its only sensible objective had been achieved.
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