Police have 'no powers' to enter homes over Christmas if COVID rules being broken

Victoria Bell
·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KONGDOM - DECEMBER 20: Police officers patrol at St Pancras International train station in London, United Kingdom on December 20, 2020. several European countries ban travel to and from the UK due to fears over the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus. Large parts of south-east England, including London, are now under a new, stricter level of restrictions to curb the spread of the virus during the upcoming holiday season. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Police officers patrol at St Pancras International train station in London on Monday. (Getty)

A police leader says London officers will not be knocking on household doors to check coronavirus restrictions are being followed now the city is in Tier 4.

Ken Marsh, chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, an officers’ staff association, said there was “no way” officers will be knocking on the doors of “normal” households in London, after tougher measures were imposed ahead of Christmas.

Marsh said: “We won’t be knocking on people’s doors at all, unless there is a large group and noise, ie a party or something like that,” he said.

“But normal day-to-day households? There’s no way that my colleagues will be dealing with that.”

He told BBC News that if people refuse to open the door to police, officers have no power to force entry, calling coronavirus laws a “toothless tiger”.

Watch: Travellers continue to leave London's Kings Cross

Customers wearing face covers queue at a TAP Air Portugal check-in desk in the departures hall at Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport in west London on December 21, 2020, as a string of countries around the world banned travellers arriving from the UK, due to the rapid spread of a new, more-infectious coronavirus strain. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to chair a crisis meeting Monday as a growing number of countries blocked flights from Britain over a new highly infectious coronavirus strain the UK said was "out of control". (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
Long queues at Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport in west London on Monday. (Getty)

Marsh also said it was “breathtaking” that there were no plans to give frontline Met officers a coronavirus vaccine.

He added: “We have the ability as police officers to become superspreaders because we're not just in the boroughs of London, we go out of the boroughs as well.”

Boris Johnson announced new Tier 4 measures in the capital and across the South East of England to halt the spread of a “more infectious” coronavirus variant said to be behind a huge jump in infections.

The draconian rules came into effect from midnight on Saturday, throwing millions of people’s festive plans into disarray.

Health secretary Matt Hancock condemned Londoners who packed stations on Saturday night to try to flee the capital as “totally irresponsible” and called for police to stop people getting on trains and into cars to flee high-infection areas.

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Hancock said: “It's the police's responsibility to police the law.”

Watch: Matt Hancock condemns Londoners trying to flee the capital

However, under the Road Traffic Act, police can only stop cars for suspected traffic violations, to check insurance or a licence, or if the motorist or passengers are wanted for an offence.

Marsh told The Telegraph: I would accept there is legislation put in place but as a police officer who has been doing the job for a long time, it’s not enforceable.”

Read more

The Tier 4 COVID lockdown rules explained
The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained
The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said police would “step up visibility” to encourage the public to follow the rules but that there is “no intention to establish roadblocks or routinely stop vehicles”.

“We will continue to engage with the public and where they are outside of their home without a reasonable excuse, we will engage, explain and encourage them to follow the rules,” he told The Independent.

“Where necessary, we will enforce through the use of a fixed-penalty notice.”

A statement released on Saturday by the Met suggests officers will take a firm stance on those who break the rules.

Commander Alex Murray said in the statement: “I know Londoners will be deeply saddened by the news that the planned relaxation of the rules over the Christmas period has been scrapped.

“The news on the virus spread is stark and deeply concerning, and we must all now take immediate action to prevent the spread by staying at home and keeping ourselves safe.

“Across the city, officers will be deployed to take action against those people whose selfish action risks jeopardising the health of Londoners.

“Likewise, we will continue our joint enforcement with London’s 32 local authorities – clamping down on those businesses that also flout the rules and put health at risk.”

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