EXCUSES given to police by people suspected of flouting lockdown laws include being ‘bored’ and scouring a hedgerow for wild rocket.

One man stopped by officers at the weekend told them it was fine to be out as ‘County Durham doesn’t have a problem, only places like Birmingham do’.

The county has around 260 confirmed cases of coronavirus, a fifth of the city in the West Midlands.

One man thought a journey to the shop for a cauliflower was essential because he ‘always has a cauliflower with Sunday dinner’ while a woman was caught collecting non-essential items she had purchased via the Facebook marketplace;

Officers also spoke to a family in the Consett area were having a picnic and changing their baby’s nappy on the picnic table.

The Northern Echo: Sergeant Paul MawsonSergeant Paul Mawson

Sergeant Paul Mawson, from Consett Police, said it was important people realised the need for social distancing.

He said: “As symptoms do not present for a number of days, you may be unwittingly passing it on to others if you do not practice social distancing.

“My officers and I have been working over the weekend and have engaged with people as best we can across Consett and the surrounding villages, to ensure that their journeys are necessary and that government guidelines are being followed.

“While I commend the large majority of the community for acting in a responsible manner that may save lives by slowing the rate of infections, there have been people who even when challenged, do not understand the impact of their actions.

“This is both time consuming for your local police and more importantly contributing to the burden on the NHS by not taken positive action to prevent the spread of infection.”

In Stanley police said they were called out several times to places where people not adhering to social distancing.

Some were not aware they were breaking Government guidelines, while others were flouting the law with no regard to the safety of others and were fined £60.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “If caught again the penalty increases, we could arrest them, or report them to the courts. We don’t like the lockdown either, but it is lockdown is vital to save lives- the lives of our friends and family.

“We’re all in this together and by knuckling down and getting on with it we can give the NHS the best chance to help us all.”