“The main aim is to stop a further lockdown.”

Those are the words of Sergeant Phil Brown from Greater Manchester Police’s Bolton division who is leading the force’s “covid cell” in enforcing the coronavirus restrictions in the borough.

Police are working with bodies such as the council and public health officials to ensure people and businesses are following the rules to help stop the spread of the virus in Bolton – which has the country's highest infection rate.

But when there is a blatant breach of the restrictions, which currently ban households meeting in any setting, enforcement action is being taken.

Among recent breaches in Bolton, a homeowner in Great Lever was given a £100 fixed penalty notice (FPN) for hosting a wedding of 100 people and The Bar on Nelson Square was handed a £100 FPN after reports of a party.

Sgt Brown said: “The consequences of a further lockdown in Bolton would be absolutely massive socially and economically, and crime would most likely go up.

“We are working together with our partners to try and stop that.

“We have got our core business of crime where we are responding to incidents and then we have got the specific covid incidents.

“It has been very busy and it’s worked really well so far. The majority of businesses in Bolton have been compliant with the restrictions but there are repeat offenders we have dealt with that do not think the rules apply to them.

“When there is a clear and blatant disregard to the rules we are issuing notices. We are trying to take further action against them.

“We do not want to have to be enforcing these measures but if we do not then there could be worse measures brought in which would affect local people’s lifestyles.”

Officers from a range of police resources such as traffic are being called to incidents where reported covid-19 regulation breaches have taken place to help their colleagues.

PCSOs are also working with public health officials to drop off testing kits to residents in the community.

Sgt Brown said: “From my point of view this is not a duty that we want to perform but we have a responsibility to the people to play our part.

“We don’t want to see more people going to hospital and dying. We want people to know that what we are doing is for the benefit of the whole town.”