Boris Johnson has said people should not report their neighbours for violating the new ‘rule of six’ coronavirus measure unless they are having huge parties, contradicting controversial statements by his ministers earlier this week.
Mr Johnson encouraged people to discuss the issue with their neighbours, rather than going directly to the authorities.
The prime minister’s words stand in sharp contrast with Priti Patel, the home secretary, who said on Tuesday she would report her neighbours for breaking the new coronavirus law, which came into effect on Monday.
Under the new restriction, introduced in the wake of a surge of new coronavirus infections, any social gathering of more than six people in England is against the law and those in breach may face fines of up to £3,200. The rule applies to both gatherings held inside and outdoors.
Ms Patel also said two families stopping for a chat in the street could be in breach of the new measure.
“I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself," Mr Johnson told The Sun.
“What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours.
“But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of their neighbour's activities – if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health then it's reasonable for the authorities to know.”
Animal House is an American comedy about a hard-partying frat house.
This was also a marked departure from the crime and policing minister, Kit Malthouse’s urging to call 111 on groups breaching the rule of six.
Meanwhile, John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has said that police officers on the front line were "trying to interpret" the rules.
Responding to a question about having "more guidance" on Good Morning Britain, Mr Apter said: "Maybe we should have 'guidance', because we haven't had any yet".
The prime minister’s comments follow a summer that has seen police breaking up raves across the country, with more than 500 illegal parties held in London alone during July.