BRITS have been encouraged to snitch on neighbours they suspect of breaching the coronavirus lockdown rules.

It's illegal from today to meet in groups of more than six in England, apart from a long list of exemptions for things like school or work.

In most cases, police will disperse groups or issue £100 on-the-spot fines.

But for persistent or repeat offenders, the fine can double each time up to £3,200 and you can end up in court.

Tory Policing Minister Kit Malthouse today suggested people should snitch on neighbours who break the rules by ringing the non-emergency police number, 101.

Southend Standard: Kit MalthouseKit Malthouse

Mr Malthouse said ministers are hoping for "extremely high compliance" like in the early stages of lockdown.

"In the end we all have to recognise that we have an individual duty towards our collective health and we hope that view will prevail," he added.

But speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be.

"There is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.

"Certainly during the initial stage of lockdown, we did see a surge in those reports coming through to the police.

"If people are concerned, if they do think there is contravention then that option is open to them."

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Pressed on whether that would involve reporting a gathering of seven or more in a neighbour's garden, Mr Malthouse said: "It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number.

"And if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it."

Asked to clarify whether residents should be concerned about local breaches of law in neighbouring properties and report them to the police, he replied: "Yes."

Several forces have created a mixture of "hotlines" and "online portals" where people can submit tip-offs if lockdown infractions occur.

The portals have been made in response to a surge in the number of calls to the non-emergency 101 number since the PM imposed lockdown measures.

Concerned citizens are being asked to fill out an online form specifying the nature of the alleged violations.

They can report supposed violations committed by individuals, groups, or businesses to police, and provide officers with the specific address, date, and time of the incident.

It comes as 260 people who tested positive with the coronavirus have today died in a record 24-hour spike, bringing the total number of people who have died with Covid-19 to 1,019.