Police faced with ‘lewd and irresponsible’ behaviour by large groups as lockdown is eased

Photograph: Richard McDougall

Police had a challenging weekend as the easing of lockdown restrictions led to “lewd behaviour”.

North Yorkshire Police saw an increase in anti social behaviour, including people defecating in public places, littering and tombstoning – when people jump into water from a height.

A meeting of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) heard there were also issues with speeding on the county’s roads.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: “We have had a fairly challenging weekend overall. There were a lot more people out and about.

“There was some really irresponsible behaviour, both on our roads and also quite a lot of anti social behaviour in beauty spots.

“Some people have been over zealous and boisterous, which has caused us concern.”

More stretched

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker. Photograph: North Yorkshire Police

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said there had been reports of people leaving drugs paraphernalia, alcohol, barbecues and litter in public places.

Assistant chief constable Mike Walker said the police do not have powers to enforce social distancing but can give advice.

He said: “For vulnerable and older communities it’s really disturbing when they see large numbers of people.

“We have seen large groups – tens and dozens of people.”

He added that many are using barbecues, which can be a fire risk if not disposed of properly.

He said it is mainly groups of young people aged 16 to 30 who are gathering – many of them visiting North Yorkshire for day trips.

ACC Walker said: “I won’t go into some of the detail of some of the lewd behaviour that we have witnessed over the weekend, but we can use different policing powers.

“Numbers of crimes have increased, the number of incidents have increased, and the number of reports from the public about Covid breaches has continued.

“We are a little more stretched, it would be fair to say, at this point.”

Police issued a total of 14 fines under the coronavirus regulations at the weekend including overnight stays in second homes and large groups gathering in public areas to drink.