POLICE have spent much of the weekend reminding members of the public to remain Covid-conscious and not to gather in large groups.

The spring-like sunshine brought crowds out to some of the regions beauty spots.

There was a large police presence on approaches to Sandhaven Beach, in South Tyneside, as compliance notices were handed to motorists heading to the popular stretch of coastline.

Northumbria Police has, in the past, warned people to follow social distancing guidelines, but more enforcement notices are now being issued.

The force believes regulations have been in place long enough for its officers to proceed more quickly to the enforcement and the issuing of penalty notices.

“People should be well aware of the laws and legislation now,” said Sgt David Stobbs.

“When we’re approaching people now we’re very inclined to move straight to enforcement and issue a fine.

“They know fine well what they can and can’t be doing.

“Recently, we’ve had some very good results with large scale breaches, groups gathering and fines being issued, and I believe the Northumbria force area is quite high up for England and Wales in terms of positive enforcement action taken.”

Sgt Stobbs recently told an online police/community forum: “Covid is our main area of business in the neighbourhood team these days.

“We’re enforcing Covid jobs reported to us and attending, but also providing high profile patrolling when we’re on duty down the beachfront.

“It is a high footfall area, with people coming in to walk along with cups of coffee in hand and we’re talking to people and asking where they’re from, where have they travelled from and who is in their household.”

Police in Durham reported, “a very busy day” for the city team, on Saturday, dealing with increased numbers of visitors, “no doubt due to the nice weather.”

A force spokesman said: “Unfortunately some decided not to abide by Covid rules, so officers issued tickets to those responsible, including several university students.

“The university will be informed about their students’ behaviour as well as the fines police issued.

“Gatherings of 15 people or more is an £800 fine - please do not put yourself in this situation.

“The team also spent over an hour playing ‘cat and mouse’ with a group of around 12 youths on mountains bikes, tearing around the city centre and making off from police when approached.

“One lad was eventually caught and his parents were contacted.”

Other patrols along the riverbanks, near Durham City cricket ground, resulted in some people being dispersed and having alcohol confiscated.

Visitors were reminded the drinking of alcohol in public within the city centre is prohibited.

The spokesman added: “It’s been a long and difficult time but lockdown is nearly finished, so please don’t jeopardise things now.

In Dipton, near Stanley, police came across a group of between six and eight youths gathering on the football pitch opposite Delight Row in Dipton, in breach of covid guidelines, at about 5.40pm.

On seeing the officers the youths ran off, leaving behind a speaker and a black mountain bike.

The parent or guardian of the owner of the bike and speaker is asked to attend South Moor section office with their child, or to ring 101, and ask to speak to PCSO 8740 Hart.

Officers were also investigating an incident of criminal damage on Hilton Road, Bishop Auckland, on Saturday.

Multiple tins of white paint were thrown across the pavement, road and on people’s fences by a group of youths.

Parents of any child returning home covered in white paint, or anyone with information about the incident, is asked to contact 101, quoting incident number 422 of February 26, asking for PC 9003 Walker.

North Yorkshire Police said extra officers were out on patrol across York and North Yorkshire over the weekend.

The force said it would take “necessary enforcement action” to protect the, “green shoots of recovery we are starting to see”, and, “to protect all our chances of getting out of lockdown.”