POLICE on patrol in Stourport said they were "staggered" by the number of people breaching lockdown rules by having house gatherings.

Wyre Forest Police took to social media to express their disbelief on Wednesday night (May 20) following an evening cycle patrol in the town.

Officers posted: "Another very pleasant cycle patrol this evening in Stourport. Although, it is quite staggering how many people think that it's acceptable to have house gatherings.

"It seems that the current national emergency and preventative measures have disappeared for some."

So far, West Mercia Police has handed out 150 fixed penalty notices (FPN) since restrictions were introduced, according to the National Police Chief's Council.

The figures show penalties issued from March 27 up to May 11, so include the VE Day bank holiday weekend, which saw warm weather bringing people out in their droves to enjoy the sunshine.

The data covers the period before the penalty rose from £60 to £100 in England after the rules were eased.

In neighbouring areas, West Midlands Police had handed out 405 FPNs, Gloucestershire had 238, Staffordshire 52 and Warwickshire 31.

Last week, West Mercia Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: “We appreciate the support that the communities across West Mercia have shown during the Covid-19 lockdown, with most people abiding by the guidance and staying at home to minimise the spread of infection, requiring us to take very minimal enforcement action.

“Now we are able to spend more time outdoors, there is opportunity to see friends and family on a one to one basis.

"Each of us needs to take responsibility for doing so sensibly, safely and within the parameters set out by the Government.

"I am confident that the vast majority of our communities will continue to play their part and take sensible steps to keep themselves and others safe.

“We will continue to engage with the public, explaining and encouraging people in relation to the guidance and social distancing, and we will only take enforcement action where it is absolutely necessary - when there are clear breaches of the restrictions, predominantly people gathering in large groups.

“We are fortunate to have some beautiful places within our counties, and many people will be glad they now have the option to make the most of them over the coming weeks.

"If you travel somewhere and it’s busy, please be sensible and go elsewhere or return at a different time. Keep in mind the purpose of the regulations and the ongoing national effort to protect the NHS and save lives."

He added: "Please be responsible and continue to work with us. We all still find ourselves in very challenging circumstances and we appreciate that the public has responded so positively to the extraordinary restrictions placed upon them. Remember that if you need our help we are here for you. Thank you for your continued support.”