The minister in charge of Britain’s police forces has said she supports officers interrogating why Britons are sitting on park benches when they should be in lockdown at home.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that she “completely back[s] the police” asking people for proof for why they are outside during lockdown, which forbids leaving home only for essential purposes.
She added that “it’s right that police act robustly”, referencing over 800 fines issued over the Christmas period for what she called “egregious breaches” of coronavirus restrictions.
Asked whether officers should interrogate people sitting on park benches, the home secretary gave her approval, saying: “Police have done that, let’s be very clear about this.
“Throughout this coronavirus pandemic, during the last lockdown, the police have been asking individuals why are they out and about and should they be out and about when the message right now is stay at home.”
“It’s right that we have these stringent measures,” she said.
Ms Patel later told Sky News that British police forces will continue to confront Britons who are outside and “explain to the public that they should not necessarily be out, unless it was for key reasons”.
Almost 350 People Wrongly Charged or Convicted Under Coronavirus Laws https://t.co/4ONkI7ofnt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 5, 2021
This is not the first time that the home secretary has made controversial comments supporting the overzealous policing of lockdown.
When Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a ban of gatherings of more than six in September, Patel said she would call the police if she saw her neighbours breaking the rules. Her remarks prompted Brexit leader Nigel Farage to say: “Have we become like East Germany where children were encouraged to report on their parents?”
Media have already reported that police are questioning Britons on the streets. The Metro reported on Thursday that Thames Valley Police was stopping drivers and asking them where they were going, as well as handing out leaflets headed: “Why are you here today?”
The handout continued: “Government restrictions require us to avoid ALL UNNECESSARY TRAVEL. You should exercise no more than once daily. This should be by walking, running or cycling etc. from your home address.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 4, 2021
“You should not be driving to a location away from your home to carry this out. Please refrain from unnecessary travel until the restrictions have been lifted.”
One woman claimed she was told she was not allowed to make the two-mile journey from Maidenhead to Taplow to buy groceries and was ordered to shop more locally, instead.
West Midlands Police is calling for powers not just to interrogate people on the streets, however, demanding the legal right to enter people’s home to check if they are breaking lockdown rules.
While London’s Metropolitan Police Service has said that people not wearing masks in enclosed public places “can expect to be fined — not reasoned with” and will interrogate those in outside spaces, demanding to know why they are not at home.
Scotland Yard arrested more than 20 people protesting coronavirus restrictions outside of the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, as MPs voted in favour of legislation that could keep the country under lockdown until mid-Spring.
‘This Is What a Police State Looks Like’: 2020 Britain’s COVID Cops https://t.co/Z2erQHDHxW
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 26, 2020