ALMOST 100 Barnsley residents have been fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions since the end of October, police in the town have revealed.

Officers at the borough’s neighbourhood policing hubs responded to 704 incidents relating to the pandemic, relying on public reports in order to deal with situations including large groups of people gathering in either parks or houses.

A total of 96 fixed penalty notices were issued, but officers noted breaches have increased as restrictions have been altered by the government.

One gathering - made up of over 300 people - was dispersed during the second lockdown and a 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.

Police seized a sound system, and 20 £200 notices were issued in Ingbirchworth, Barnsley, after police disbanded the group in the early hours of a Saturday morning.

Chief Constable Stephen Watson warned robust action will continue - but admitted enforcement has been used as a ‘last resort’.

He added: “Much of the information currently emerging speaks to a changing picture - new rules and regulations, together with increased fines and penalties.

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“We have used an engage, educate and encourage approach while reserving enforcement as a last resort - this was entirely appropriate in allowing people time to understand and process the restrictions.

“The vast majority of people have put every effort into adhering to the rules despite the unwelcome nature of the restrictions on normal family, social and work life.”

Court proceedings relating to an address on Beeston Square, Athersley North, are imminent, with one person due to appear in relation to a breach of a community protection notice (CPN) where a group were disbanded.

Three received fines as a result of the incident, two teenagers were given warnings and three others were reported on summons.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Poolman said: “Our neighbourhood teams are co-located with Barnsley Council’s staff and jointly scan for repeat locations of antisocial behaviour so that we are better able to effectively intervene and resolve the issues.

“An example of this was repeated calls about entrenched antisocial behaviour at an address in Beeston Square, Athersley North. There were reports of numerous people attending the address at all hours.

“Working together, the neighbourhood team and council identified that the informal action taken had not resolved the issues and therefore, quickly served a CPN while a partial closure order was secured from the court.

Alongside our communities, staff and officers at Barnsley have shown incredible resilience throughout the pandemic, continuing to provide full service delivery to our communities as well as digesting the frequent changes to the regulations and doing their best to apply the legislation in a proportionate and balanced way.

“We are working closely with council colleagues to support our communities and to deal with reported breaches of the Covid regulations and were the first area to introduce that joined-up response.

“We continue to follow the national guidance of the four Es - engage, explain, encourage and enforce - and have, since the introduction of the tiered system in October, issued fixed penalty notices for breaches of regulations.”