Humberside Police received 900 complaints a day during lockdown about people breaking social distancing rules

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The number of complaints filed with Humberside Police for breaking lockdown rules reached 900 a day at its peak.

Humberside Police Chief Superintendent Darren Downs told East Riding councillors around 17,000 complaints had been made to date through a dedicated online reporting system.

Chief Supt Downs told the Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee it had been impossible to attend every complaint and officers had focused on repeat offenders.

He added "woolly" government guidelines on social distancing had made them open to interpretation.

The chief superintendent's comments came as he was updating councillors on the impact the pandemic has had on crime in the East Riding.

He gave the figures in response to a question from Cllr Ben Weeks about the police's policy towards those breaking lockdown.

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Cllr Weeks said the most common call he had received was from residents claiming their neighbours were ignoring the rules, hosting visitors and throwing parties.

When we went into lockdown at the beginning we created an online reporting system. At one point we were getting around 900 complaints a day. Different people were interpreting woolly rules differently. We monitored the log and if we got several calls about the same address or from the same complainant then community teams would go and visit.

Chief Superintendent Darren Downs

Chief Supt Downs said the force had issued less fines than others breaking lockdown rules but found payment rates were better in comparison at about 60 to 70 per cent.

The chief superintendent said: "Most of those fined accepted it and paid. We've still got addresses causing us problems now but they were causing us problems six months ago.

"So far we've had around 17,000 online reports submitted. We're not going to visit every one of those.

"The idea of what was classed as a breach was subjective. And now social distancing rules are guidelines so we don't have any legal powers to enforce them."

He said crime overall had dropped by 30 per cent in the first three months of this year. Demand for police services fell by 40 per cent over the same period.

As the lockdown restrictions are eased we're slowing coming back to normal demand levels. We're close to where we used to be but not quite where we were last July. By August or September it will be back to where it should be.

Chief Superintendent Darren Downs

The chief superintendent said the recent Operation Galaxy, which saw more than 650 arrests and around £5m in drugs seized, had been an opportunity to "take back the streets".

He said: "It was a real opportunity to make it difficult for criminals to operate.

"Organised criminal gangs are now nowhere near as active as they were three or four months ago."

The chief superintendent said illegal drug taking had also been affected by the pandemic.

He added the three most popular drugs were now cannabis, benzedrine and cocaine while heroin use had fallen.

Chief Supt Downs said the pandemic and the force's seizure of drugs had led to price rises as supplies dried up.

But he added this had meant more drug users were turning to alcohol which was now a concern, with hospitals reporting more admissions for drink-associated conditions.

The chief superintendent said domestic abuse cases in the East Riding had fallen year on year in April, May and June despite fears of a spike.

There were 380 cases reported in April, falling from 440 12 months before, 372 in May compared to 441 in 2019 and 419 in June, four cases less.

He said the fall could be down to victims finding it harder to report attacks.

Chief Supt Downs added the true figure was difficult to measure because domestic abuse came under several different offences such as assault, harassment, property damage and stalking.

Ch Supt Downs said he did not expect crime to spike as coronavirus rules continues to ease, adding it was falling before lockdown began.

The chief superintendent said the vast majority of East Riding communities had continued to follow social distancing rules when pubs, bars and restaurants reopened on Saturday, July 4.

Chief Supt Downs said the force was currently planning for a possible second wave.