Cops say they are 'duty bound' to investigate Covid breaches over Christmas amid fears of a 'deluge' of reports

POLICE have said they are "duty-bound" to investigate Covid breaches over Christmas amid fears of a "deluge" of reports.

From December 23 to 27 three households will be allowed to form a temporary "bubble" during the five-day relaxation of Covid rules.

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A police source told The Telegraph that officers during the five-days will be "duty-bound" to investigate any calls about people who have breached the new rules.

"Officers are going to be encouraged to be pragmatic in their approach to breaches but, of course, if someone calls police about their neighbours having three rather than two households round, you are duty-bound to investigate," he said.

However, police have said they will adopt a "light touch" approach to minor breaches during the five-day period.

Ken Marsh, chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, spoke of fears that there could be a deluge of reports of breaches.

"People will call saying: 'I have seen someone with 15 people going into a neighbour’s home' but we are not going to be able to tell how many people are in a private house because we have no power of entry,” he told The Telegraph.

"It will be a case of being damned if we do or damned if we don’t.

"We are unlikely to take action unless it is straight in your face, like a private party in a hotel or restaurant where hundreds of people are sitting down or 200 people at a house party."

Another policing source told The Telegraph of fears that the five days could lead to partying and a rise in violence and domestic abuse calls.

He said: "There is a fear that it might be like the last days of Sodom and Gomorrah where people will say the Government has given us these five days for a reason, so let’s have five days of partying.

“We know that where people and alcohol mix, bad decisions will be made and there will be a rise in violence and domestic abuse.

"There are concerns about having to deal with it over the five days of Christmas.”

While some officers are nervous over the five-day relaxation of rules, other officers are more concerned over New Years' Eve as restrictions will be reinstated for the prime party night.

'ROBUST RESPONSE'

"New Year is expected to be more problematic than Christmas as the rules will be back in place but lots of people will probably want to gather to see the back of what has been an awful 12 months for most of us,” said a senior policing source in a Tier 3 region.

"As throughout the pandemic we will be working with communities to explain the rules and encourage them to adhere to the advice.

"Where this is ignored people can expect a robust response."

It comes after Dame Cressida Dick said cops have "other things to do" than barge in on lunches to enforce Covid rules throughout the holiday.

The Metropolitan Police chief said on November 20 officers won’t be bursting into homes or knocking on doors unless there is evidence of a "huge" party.

The London police chief told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I have no intention anyway of encouraging my people to be barging through people’s doors or knocking on people’s doors.

“Unless you’ve got, as we sometimes do, and then they can’t barge, they may knock, a huge party going on.

“Which is clearly very, very dangerous and causing lots of concern in the neighbours, well then we may be knocking on doors, saying you need to stop this.”

Under the Christmas rules, families will be able to "bubble up" for five days to enjoy the festivities together.

FESTIVE RULES

Families will have to choose their social bubble in advance and will be able to spend time indoors with them – including the pub and a restaurant.

They can meet people outside their Christmas bubble outdoors however they must follow the guidelines of the tier where they are staying.

There will be no travel restrictions for those five days from December 23 to 27.

Social distancing won't need to be kept to during the five day relaxation of the rules, but ministers will remind people to be alert of the risks of spreading the virus.

There will be some differences between the four nations of the UK, however, on what counts as a bubble and how people can split up to see family.

In November Matt Hancock suggested that families will be expected to socially distance over the festive period.

The Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast that there is a need to "respect the fact that we mustn't spread the virus further but also respect the fact that Christmas is a special time where people get together, especially with their families".

He added: "It's about getting the balance right and allowing people to have a Christmas that undoubtedly will be different this year but still try to have that cherished Christmas with your family as much as possible.

"I've got no doubt that people will continue to respect social distancing throughout because we know that that is so important for full control of the virus."

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