GREATER Manchester deputy mayor Bev Hughes has revealed weekend calls of covid-19 breaches are on the rise as residents seek to protect themselves from infection.

Baroness Hughes said there are “very persistent offenders” in the region including a woman in Bolton who has racked up four fixed penalty notices, adding up to a fine of £1,500.

The deputy mayor also said there have been funerals which have required their own police operations and that officers are being increasingly sent to reports of weddings, despite large gatherings being banned under Government rules.

Speaking in an online press conference, Baroness Hughes: “Reports from the public about large gatherings are increasing.

“There were 502 reports over last weekend, it’s gone up every weekend for the last six weeks.

“When the police visit most are either compliant or they’re willing to accept the advice of police.

“I think it’s clear that from the number of calls that the police get, which are rising, those are reports that people feel are breaches there’s a great deal of concern among a large section of the population about breaches and about the risks that that exposes everybody to in terms of infection.

“A lot of people who know they’re at risk because of their age or their vulnerability are actually trying to keep out of situations in which they might become infected.

“One woman in Bolton is now on her fourth fixed penalty notice having had a very large party in her house again.

“The totting up of her fixed penalty notice is coming up to £1,500 at the moment so very significant.

“400 fixed penalty notices in total have been issued by the police now, 85 over the last weekend, Friday to Sunday.

“There are also some large gatherings particularly around parties and funerals.

“Some very large funerals that have needed their own police operations themselves, which is a resource issue.

“Also weddings increasingly feature. I don’t know if people have put off their weddings that were going to be in the spring and now feel they are going to get on with it.

“It almost feels as if the fixed penalty notices they will are being factored in now as a cost people will bear in order to go ahead with their weddings.”

Messenger Newspapers:

Greater Manchester deputy mayor, Baroness Bev Hughes

Baroness Hughes also said the “ever-changing” restrictions is causing frustration among certain groups of people.

She said: “There are certainly other groups of people, potentially younger people, who are frustrated.

“I think they’re frustrated because of the contradictions within the restrictions, because of the fact they’ve been ever-changing, they’re not consistent.

“And as a result of those two factors they don’t really understand them and don’t they don’t therefore kind of own the restrictions and don’t feel they need to comply.”

Recent figures show that crime is returning to pre-covid levels and that is placing a strain on the place although staffing levels are not being affected by the virus at present.

Baroness Hughes said: “There’s no question that the demands of enforcement are creating significant stretch for the police service because as well as doing that the normal business that the police deal with; missing children, domestic violence, serious crime.

“All of that has returned to pre-covid levels so it’ a constant balance between responding to those calls from the public for help and responding to crime as well as doing the enforcement.

“Thankfully for the moment the number of officers and staff have not been significantly affected in terms of their need to self-isolate.

“There has been some pockets of teams affected but it hasn’t affected the ability of the police to respond overall.

“Although if infections carry on increasing like that then actually that will impact not just on the police but on all our public services as increasingly people who work in those services need to isolate.

“It’s something we are constantly watching and trying to strike the right balance.”

Around 300 business visits are being carried out in the region a week as police check firms are ensuring social distancing measures are being imposed.

The majority of companies are following the rules but some hospitality venues are not sticking to the Government restrictions.

And the 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants has introduced a set of problems on streets such as large people gathering in shops.

Baroness Hughes said: “The 10pm has created other issues with large congregations in public spaces.

“Congregations around supermarkets and off licences.

“Difficulties for people getting home, lack of taxis and private hire meaning that people stand around in very large groups.

“Generally, reports of overall good compliance with what businesses need to do to keep themselves and customers.

“That’s not necessarily the case though with hospitality businesses, there are still issues there around the situations inside premises but certainly in terms of retail and other businesses there is generally very good compliance.”