Police in Northern Ireland receive nearly 4,000 reports in six days over alleged social distancing breaches

The PSNI received 3,787 reports in six days over social distancing Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Police in Northern Ireland received 3,787 reports about adhering to social distancing guidelines in just six days, the force has confirmed.

A number of the reports related to people allegedly not following guidance, rather than fully breaching the lockdown regulations.

These were described as including a person jogging within two metres of another person or someone exercising more than once a day.

Shuttered stores and police patrols on Ann Street in Belfast. Credit: Justin Kernoghan/PA

The reports were received on a dedicated website launched by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on April 10.

The site was created to take the pressure off the non-emergency 101 number for reports of alleged breaches of stay-at-home measures brought in to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The force told the PA news agency that the service had received "3,787 reports to the web page" between April 10 - 16.

It added: "To provide some context to the figures, many reports to date do not disclose a breach of the regulations but relate to what members of the public perceive to be a breach of the regulations.

"A number of the reports relate to people not following guidance but not necessarily a breach of the regulations for example, where the reporting person believes a person jogging on a path is coming closer than within two metres of another person, or where a person is exercising more than once a day."

A woman runs past a mental health mural on the Falls road in west Belfast. Credit: PA

The PSNI said the web page is currently being reviewed to ensure reports include enough detail to act on.

"Some of the reports also lack sufficient detail to take any further action such as inaccurate or non-existent addresses, or general descriptions and some of the reports relate to incidents/activity outside of Northern Ireland," the PSNI statement said.

"To address these issues, the reporting page is being reviewed to help inform people prior to submission of the report."

A nurse looks at a mural painted in recognition of the NHS on the Falls Road in Belfast. Credit: PA

The PSNI can break up gatherings in breach of social distancing rules and issue fines of up to £960 for those who repeatedly disregard officer requests to disperse.

Despite repeated calls that the public stay at home across the Easter weekend, there were 107 fines issued over the three days, with officers breaking up barbecues and a small number of large house parties.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd has previously said the force's approach will be engaging, explaining and encouraging the regulations before moving to enforcement.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know