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Coronavirus: PSNI launch online reporting portal after 900 complaints on social distancing breaches

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Police officers set up a checkpoint on the Frosses Road heading towards Portrush to ensure coronavirus restrictions are followed.  (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Police officers set up a checkpoint on the Frosses Road heading towards Portrush to ensure coronavirus restrictions are followed. (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Police officers set up a checkpoint on the Frosses Road heading towards Portrush to ensure coronavirus restrictions are followed. (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The PSNI has launched an online portal for members of the public to report incidents where social distancing rules are not being followed.

The move comes ahead of the Easter weekend, during which people have been warned to remain at home in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In recent days images have emerged of large crowds gathering for two funerals, in breach of social distancing guidelines.

Police have been given new powers to issue on the spot fines to anyone found to be leaving their home, except in strict circumstances, such as going to buy essential goods or exercise.

The PSNI's new web portal allows for complaints to be filed about people not adhering to social distancing rules, large gatherings taking place, a person repeatedly travelling for non-essential purposes, or bars being opened.

Since March 28, the PSNI has received 906 such complaints.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said the reporting service needs to be used sensibly.

“We want to resolve situations where the restrictions are being contravened without having to resort to enforcement powers or issuing fines," he said.

"However, where breaches do occur, we want to make it as easy as possible for members of the public to tell us while, at the same time, making sure that the ‘101’ number remains available and accessible to those who need to report a crime or an incident.”

“I am encouraging people to carefully consider the circumstances before making a report, but I can assure the public that all reports will be considered by our staff coordinating the operational policing response to Covid-19. Every day there are dedicated officers to ensuring we engage, explain, encourage and, if necessary, enforce the regulations."

Mr Todd said additional officers will be deployed over the weekend to enforce the restrictions.

“My message to everyone is that we all have a personal responsibility to follow the regulations and to do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid-19, protect the health service and save lives," he added.

"We also have an opportunity to follow the approach of our officers, engage those in your household, explain the importance of the restrictions and encourage everyone to follow them.

“We all have a part to play and make a difference.”

You can access the online reporting portal here.

Belfast Telegraph