Safer Cornwall is calling on residents to support each other during the pandemic and avoid confrontations over social distancing.
The partnership, made up of Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police and other agencies, has received reports of verbal abuse, abuse on social media, and criminal damage to personal property as a result of people being mistaken for breaking social distancing rules.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Cornwall Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team have warned that they will not tolerate behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress and will take action against those responsible.
Safer Cornwall strongly discourages anyone from approaching another person to confront them about social distancing, or if they have concerns that a business is open that should not be.
Instead, the partnership is reminding residents to treat one another with respect at this difficult time and to report their concerns to the correct agencies so they can carry out the appropriate investigations.
Anyone concerned about social gathering should contact the Police by calling 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and call 999 in an emergency.
If a business is suspected of flouting closure orders reports should be made to Cornwall Council on 0300 123 1118 or by emailing email@example.com.
Rob Nolan, Cornwall’s Cabinet Member for environment and public protection, said: “It is with sadness that we have received reports of families being targeted online and face-to-face about not following social distancing guidelines, when the perception may be wrong.
“We have seen second homeowners and businesses put themselves forward to offer accommodation for key workers and local families, who need this vital accommodation, to maintain the work commitments that allow them to keep their families safe.
“Please do not assume that anyone in a motorhome, holiday home or driving is breaking the social distancing guidelines. Continue to be compassionate and understand that where applicable that Cornwall Council and Devon and Cornwall Police will undertake the enforcement needed.”
Simon Mould, Cornwall Council’s Head of Communities, said: “We continue to see amazing support across all of our communities where those most vulnerable are being supported by voluntary groups and individuals giving what they can to help those most in need. We ask that residents show compassion and understanding during this difficult time.”
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We have seen over the Easter holidays that communities are following the social gathering restrictions and only in limited cases have we had to respond and enforce against large groups gathering.
“We are however seeing an increase in neighbour nuisance and reports of non-compliance. If you are experiencing any form of hate crime or harassment please report this to us so that we can take action to support you.”
If you are being targeted and experiencing any form of alarm, harassment or distress please report this to the police by calling 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and call 999 in an emergency.