Police in Scarborough have appealed to residents and visitors alike to abide by the lockdown rules after another record week for fines issued on the coast including more than £16,000 for people at a birthday bash.
A total of 255 fines were issued in North Yorkshire in the last seven days with 127 of them coming in the borough of Scarborough.
Breaches included 21 people in Scarborough at a 40th birthday party over the weekend who each got £800 fines for a total of £16,800, and people travelling from Leeds and Hull to Filey.
The police have now warned the public that their actions could lead to the lifting of lockdown being delayed.
Superintendent Mike Walker, who is leading North Yorkshire Police’s response to the pandemic, said that during half-term week there was a 33% increase in the number of fixed penalty notices issued.
He told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum today that there had been a worrying change.
People ‘bending rules’
Supt Walker said: “Officers are reporting a marked change in people’s attitude and behaviour since the Government’s roadmap was announced.
“From what we are witnessing, backed up by the enforcement figures, it seems that people are starting to relax their approach to the national lockdown and are starting to bend the rules a bit further with more people heading to the coast for a day out.”
Supt Walker added: “We are not home and dry yet. We know the vaccine offers hope but we are not at the point where we can abandon social distancing and all other precautions.
“The Prime Minister announced very clearly that the roadmap will be led by data and not dates so let’s not jeopardise that now.
“Imagine the disappointment we will feel if the Prime Minister announces the data does not support us moving to that next phase.”
Sergeant Dan Thompson is running frontline patrols during lockdown from his base in Eastfield in Scarborough.
He told the forum that over the weekend three law students and three nursing students had travelled to Filey from Leeds just to get fish and chips by the sea.
On Sunday nine people from two households had come up from Hull to Filey Country park to have a barbecue together.
Change in behaviour
Sgt Thompson said: “Over the last weekend in particular there has been a distinct change in the behaviours of people who have been coming over and visiting the coast.
“We have been engaging with quite a lot of people and the message we are getting back is very different to the ones we have had in previous breaches when we have spoken to people.
“It is very much along the lines of ‘the government has released us, there’s new hope, things are going to change’.
“There is obviously a lot of positive news about vaccinations and people are letting it slip. That’s where the majority of our breaches are now coming from.”
He added that most of the people who were being spoken to and issued fixed penalty notices were “not known” to the force and had no previous criminal records.
Sgt Thompson said: “There just seems to be confusion and misunderstanding but ultimately we are still in the middle of a pandemic.”
Out of the 255 fines issued in the county in the last week, 136 were given to visitors.