Think twice before reporting anyone who doesn't wear a mask, say North Yorkshire Police
Police in North Yorkshire are urging people to think before reporting anyone for not wearing a mask.
Ahead of face coverings becoming mandatory in shops and supermarkets from tomorrow, North Yorkshire Police say they want to keep their phone lines free for "urgent policing matters".
They say people should report breaches of the rule online, and warn it will not be possible for officers to attend every incident.
Supt Charlotte Bloxham, silver commander for the response to Covid-19, said: “As with the policing of the previous coronavirus regulations, we know the vast majority of people will do as the Government have asked, as they know how important it is to protect themselves, their families and other people.
“Since the new regulations were announced, we have been liaising with local retailers to explain how we will police these new regulations.
“Demand on our service is almost back to normal pre-coronavirus levels, so we have to prioritise where we deploy our officers.
“We will take a sensible approach to enforcement and hope people understand that we cannot attend every incident.
"To that end, please bear this in mind before reporting anyone for not wearing a face-covering.
“To help keep our phone lines free for urgent policing matters, we urge anyone who wishes to report a breach of the regulations, to do so via our online coronavirus reporting form which can be found on our website.
"Please only call if a situation escalates and your safety is threatened.
"Once again, we thank the people of York and North Yorkshire who have shown great support, understanding and compliance with the guidance and regulations so far.
"It is because of your sacrifices that we are now in a position where we can enjoy more freedom.
"Please stay safe, and help to limit the spread.”
The Government has given the police service the power to fine people if they are not wearing a face covering in shops or supermarkets.
North Yorkshire Police says it will only do this "as a very last resort".
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “Controlling the spread of the virus, which it seems clear will be part of our lives for some time, is a vital part of trying to return to a more normal way of life.
"Wearing face masks in shops and supermarkets is one part of that and I support the new rules and North Yorkshire Police’s approach to them.
“Clearly, it is never going to be possible for officers to police every retailer or respond to every report of someone not wearing a mask.
"If you have concerns, please report them on the North Yorkshire Police website rather than calling 101.
“We need everyone to be sensible and to do their part to ensure we stop the spread of coronavirus, but also we need our emergency services to be focused on prioritising the most serious incidents to keep us safe and feeling safe.
"Achieving that balance in these challenging times is difficult and I would ask everyone to use their common sense and be patient as we all get used to this changed world.”
Retailers can refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.
There are some exemptions, which can be found on the Governent's website.