IT HAS been just over a week since the UK entered into lockdown to tackle the coronavirus, with strict new measures designed to delay the virus’ spread.

They included a ban on public gatherings of more than two people; only leaving the home to exercise once a day, travelling to and from work “where this is absolutely necessary”; shopping for essential items; and fulfilling any medical or care needs.

And police have been given powers to fine people who break those rules – reaching up to £120 for repeat offenders.

But what can you do if you see a public gathering or congregation?

If you see an officer out on patrol, you are asked to first report it to them, Gwent Police said.

“If that is not an option which is available, then go to a social media channel on Facebook and Twitter to report.”

Gwent Police’s deputy chief constable Amanda Blakeman echoed this.

“We are especially interested in groups of youths that are congregating or the sort of flouting where they are really putting others at risk,” she said.

“Our social media desks are constantly monitored.”

South Wales Argus:

(Gwent Police have been conducting patrols across the region. Picture: Gwent Police.)

DCC Blakeman added that you can “use 101 to report it,” but asked the public to “use common sense and think about it sensibly”.

“We would encourage people to ring us if there is a group of youths and it is distressing for them and they are concerned.”

But she urged the public to use “common sense”.

“We have seen a rise in people asking for advice, asking for permission.”

“We don’t want people ringing us about whether it is okay to get their MoT. (There is a six-month exemption for MoTs)

“We want to free up the 101 to make sure that the people who need it can get through.”

Read more: Locations of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wales

Read more: Gwent Police answering calls about horse washing and feeding stray cats

Have the police issued any fines?

As of yet, Gwent Police has not issued any fines, saying that their approach of “engaging” first with conversation is working.

DCC Blakeman said: “We are trying to take a pragmatic, sensible approach to this where we are engaging and trying to have a conversation and getting the individuals to identify that what they are doing is not sensible and that they need to go home.

“From our point of view, we have worked hard to engage our communities – we want to continue that good relationship we have with our communities.

“Engagement first, enforcement as a last report is really where we are."

South Wales Argus:

(Gwent Police's approach has been engagement first, enforcement later. Picture: Gwent Police.)

“I think we are really lucky with the community of Gwent – having a look at our local parks, speaking to people they were observing the rules, they were really courteous.

“I haven’t seen a position where we are getting a huge amount of public push back which is why we are going with the approach of engaging with people first, explaining the situation and encouraging them to return home, rather than force them, which should be a last resort.”

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Read more: In the Dock: Ten drivers who defied laws of the road punished

When to ring 999

Gwent Police are reiterating when to ring 999 after receiving a host of coronavirus-related questions.

- You can read the full list of strange phone calls here.

You should only ring:

  • If there is a danger to life or property
  • If you are reporting a crime that is in progress
  • If a suspect is nearby

And DCC Blakeman encouraged anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse to call the police after a dramatic drop-off in reports.

“We are really clear, we don’t want to see a decrease in that.

“Over the last two-and-a-half weeks, we have seen around 130 fewer reports of domestic abuse.

“A success is where someone has the confidence to ring us so we can help them, intervene and take positive actions.

“We don’t want people sitting at home, finding themselves in a situation where they are fearful and aren’t ringing us. That is a never a waste of time.”