'Rule of six': Priti Patel's neighbours unimpressed by her shopping lawbreakers

Home secretary said she would inform the police if her neighbours flouted Covid rules

It’s the question millions of Britons are having to ask themselves.

And for Priti Patel, there was only one answer.

If she saw her neighbours breaking “the rule of six”, would she dob them in it? Yes, said the home secretary.

“Quite frankly, I would call the police.”

Which came as something of a disappointment to some of those living near her house in London, who felt that snitching on the neighbours wasn’t very – well – neighbourly.

Besides, said one, the government had bigger fish to fry to stop the spread of the virus.

“I wouldn’t do it because I have a good relationship with my neighbours, why should I call the police on them?” asked one neighbour, called Faisal.

“The next day, that guy will be coming to my door asking me what I was doing and calling the police on me … There would be conflict if someone did, it’s not a good idea, to be honest.”

Another neighbour, called Michael, said he would report gatherings “if it got too bad, but I would live and let live in the first place”.

He thought the government had “made a pig’s ear of the whole job” and suggested the ministers might have “more important things to worry about than dobbing in your neighbour”.

The government has been on the back foot about the law introduced on Monday that bans more than six people meeting in one place – with many commentators deriding the “Covid marshals” who are supposed to break up large gatherings, and report any wrongdoing.

Ministers have warned that those found in groups of seven or more face on-the-spot fines of £100, which will double on repeat offences up to £3,200.

The home secretary stirred the debate some more on Tuesday when she told broadcasters she would have little compunction in calling in the authorities if she caught anyone flouting the rules.

Asked if she would call them out, Patel told Sky News: “I’m rarely at home but if I saw something that I thought was inappropriate then, quite frankly, I would call the police.”

Another of her neighbours, who did not want to be named, was complimentary about Patel on a personal level.

But telling tales on a neighbour? “It’s just not in my nature.”

Contributor

Kevin Rawlinson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'Sneak culture': Boris Johnson appears to criticise Priti Patel for rule of six snooping
PM suggests he would be uncomfortable reporting neighbours under Covid law

Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

17, Sep, 2020 @8:17 AM

Article image
Priti Patel's record on human rights prompts 'extreme concern'
Campaigners will keep close watch on new home secretary, who backed May’s hostile environment policies

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

25, Jul, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Priti Patel accused of ‘cover-up’ over Daniel Morgan investigation
MPs allege home secretary wants to protect friends in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire by redacting report

Peter Walker Political correspondent

24, May, 2021 @5:51 PM

Article image
Civil liberties groups criticise Priti Patel’s plan to criminalise protest
Home secretary plans to use policing bill to grant new powers to police to crack down on activists

Kevin Rawlinson and Aubrey Allegretti

05, Oct, 2021 @4:25 PM

Article image
Tool to report lockdown rule-breakers 'risks fuelling social division'
Majority of forces in England and Wales adopt online form allowing people to report others

Josh Halliday and Nazia Parveen

09, Apr, 2020 @3:18 PM

Article image
Daniel Morgan’s son says Priti Patel has added to family’s agony
Home secretary urged to ‘bring our torture to an end’ by allowing publication of report into police and media corruption

Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

22, May, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Priti Patel faces demands for statutory inquiry into murder of Sarah Everard
Labour and SNP say investigation into ‘failures’ of Met police announced by home secretary lacks legal powers

Rajeev Syal Home affairs editor

05, Oct, 2021 @6:09 PM

Article image
Police urge people in England to respect Covid ‘rule of six’
Resources strained as officers called to parties on last weekend before rule change on gatherings

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

14, Sep, 2020 @7:07 AM

Article image
Priti Patel accuses senior Tory MP of breaking Covid rules
Home secretary agrees that dinner attended by Tobias Ellwood was an ‘egregious’ breach

Peter Walker and Simon Murphy

17, Dec, 2020 @3:19 PM

Article image
Priti Patel refuses to rule out second Covid lockdown for England
Government under pressure to bring in tougher measures, as West Yorkshire prepares to enter tier 3

Simon Murphy, Josh Halliday and Niamh McIntyre

29, Oct, 2020 @7:44 PM