Avon and Somerset Police has called out timewasters who are calling the emergency services with inane questions about the coronavirus lockdown.
Call handlers have had to deal with queries like “can I walk my dog?”, “can I mow other people’s lawns?” and “can I go on the bus for a day trip?”
The force is asking people not to abuse the phone lines and leave them for those who really need them.
It is not alone – Greater Manchester Police received 180 calls about the lockdown on Tuesday, with questions like “Can I take my car for its MOT?” and “Can I pick my daughter up at Manchester airport?”
Avon and Somerset Police chief constable Andy Marsh said hundreds of police officers and PCSOs had been out communicating with the public on how they can “help us to help themselves to cut deaths by complying with this Government advice”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered everyone to stay inside, with only four exceptions.
- shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
- going out one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
- any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
- travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
The Avon and Somerset Police Control Room tweeted after the new rules were announced: “Our phone lines are currently extremely busy following the PM’s announcement tonight – please refrain from calling us to ask what you can and cannot do under the measures introduced.
“We need emergency lines to be available so please visit gov.uk/coronavirus for full details.”
The message seems to be getting through. It tweeted yesterday morning: “We are seeing a slight reduction in calls asking for guidance today and wanted to say THANK YOU.
“Thank you to everyone who is helping us to keep others safe by following instruction to #StayHome and in doing so reducing unnecessary demand so we can concentrate on #savinglives”.
CC Marsh has discussed how the new rules on staying at home will be enforced.
He said in a Facebook Live video: “We have every hope and expectation that people will understand why this law is important and the vast majority will comply with it.
“If we see people flagrantly, openly disobeying the law, which will be on the statute book on Thursday, then we will take enforcement action.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter