A poll has revealed that a plurality of Britons do not think the police are cracking down hard enough on alleged covid rule-breakers, despite recent high-profile stories appearing to show overzealous officers fining women for taking walks or sitting on benches.
YouGov asked respondents on Monday to consider police enforcing coronavirus rules and whether they thought enforcement had been “too strict”, “about right”, or “not strict enough” in a snap poll. Just over one-in-ten (14 per cent) said that police had been too strict, with more than one-quarter (27 per cent) said that enforcement had been “about right”. While the largest proportion (46 per cent) said that police had not been strict enough.
It's increasingly likely that Covid rule-breakers will be fined, the Metropolitan Police commissioner has said.
— YouGov (@YouGov) January 12, 2021
The responses are broadly in line with other surveys in the past several months showing Britons were scared to leave home and wanted more lockdown restrictions. A poll from November also revealed that the majority (54 per cent) of Conservative voters back making vaccines mandatory. Another poll that month found 80 per cent of Britons supported making the dissemination of ‘fake news’ about vaccines a criminal offence.
The latest poll follows two high-profile stories demonstrating the overzealous enforcement of lockdown rules. Last week, Derbyshire Police surrounded two women in their cars as they pulled into a nature reserve and read them their rights because they had driven five miles to take a walk. They were also told that their coffees were not allowed as they constituted a “picnic”, and fined £200 each.
Police effectively told the women that they had to remain “local” to take exercise. However, the prime minister is under criticism following reports that he was caught cycling some seven miles from his Downing Street residence.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave his full support to Derbyshire Police for its actions — however, the force later rescinded the fines following an internal police review.
Boris Demands Brits Follow Lockdown Rules Amidst Controversy over PM’s Alleged Cycling Trip Miles from Home https://t.co/o5nqMFGpRP
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 12, 2021
Footage released last weekend revealed Dorset Police placing two women in handcuffs and arresting them after they refused to give their details in order to receive a COVID fine, one allegedly for sitting on a bench near the beach, and the other for going on too many walks in one day, with officers admitting they had been following the latter with cameras across the town. The women were later de-arrested and fined.
On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, the head of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, said that her officers would be cracking down on rule-breakers, “moving much more quickly to enforcement action”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dick recommended that ministers should impose strict limits on travel for exercise, claiming that ” greater clarity would be a good thing”.
The Times reported that police are now randomly stopping people on the street, demanding to know why they are outside. Devon and Cornwall Police are also using licence plate reading cameras to monitor drivers to ensure they are not making any so-called ‘unnecessary’ journeys.
Ministers are believed to be discussing tightening lockdown measures even further, with the prime minister threatening on Monday that “we may have to do more” if people do not follow the rules.
Hardline Lockdown Cops Claim Arrest of Woman Sitting on Bench Was ‘Stage-Managed’ https://t.co/LGNhBLcOYN
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 11, 2021