A young British Youtuber watched with incredulity as 20 officers from West Midlands Police invaded his Birmingham flat to investigate false claims he was having a party in contravention of coronavirus lockdown laws, yet officers only found three people inside.
“How many of yous does there need to be?” asked 18-year-old Jayden Gray, known as Canking, as the officers filed into his apartment.
Speaking both to the officers and his mobile phone, he asked how many people are legally allowed to be in a property. Failing to grasp that the remarks were meant to mock West Midlands Police for not socially distancing while more and more crowded into the entranceway, one officer said, “well, we need to discuss that” before other officers barged past the YouTuber.
The footage, shared by BirminghamLive, then showed officers investigating the top-floor flat to see where the party-goers were hidden, only to find Mr Gray’s flatmate and his girlfriend. Unable to prove a massive violation — which can result in organisers of large gatherings being fined £10,000 — only the girlfriend was cited for being in a residence where she was not registered as living.
Speaking to the regional news outlet, Mr Gray described what appeared to be a disturbing method of policing, whereby the officers knocked, covered the spyhole, and refused to acknowledge who they were when asked. When Gray did manage to see who was behind it, he said he was met with “aggression” upon opening the door. Given that a 2018 poll found Birmingham to be rated the least safe city in the whole of the UK, Gray’s caution to opening the door to unknown persons was not, perhaps, unreasonable.
Gray told BirminghamLive: “I heard a knock at the door and went to look through the peephole.”
He claimed: “One of them put their finger (on) the peephole so I couldn’t see who it was. I was asking over and over again who it was, but they weren’t saying anything and continued knocking.
UK’s Covid Cops Call for Power to Invade Private Homes to Break up ‘Illegal Gatherings’… Again https://t.co/yNyW6gJiKL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 7, 2021
“I wasn’t going to open the door if they were not going to say who they were. So I walked away from the door and they continued knocking.”
He added: “I looked back through the peephole and the finger was not fully over it so I could see the police. I opened the door and was greeted with aggression.”
The 18-year-old then described five officers cornering his girlfriend in the kitchen, “pressuring my girl”.
“If they expected a party it made no sense for everyone to enter the building. I live in an apartment on the top floor. If there was a party, we couldn’t get out of the apartment because we’re not going to jump out.
“I feel like they were trying to make a point.”
“… the way they handled it is not right,” he added.
West Midlands Police gave a conditional apology in a statement to the news outlet, not apologising for the extreme police presence itself, but saying: “We apologise if the tenant believed our response was excessive but we were simply responding to information provided to us.”
The force is known for its excessive reaction to alleged coronavirus law infractions. Last year, it used a power saw to break into a football club where members were suspected of having a few drinks, and recently fined six attendees of a memorial to the victims of a terror attack.
UK Police Chief: ‘Now Is Really Not the Time’ for Freedom of Speech, Right to Assembly https://t.co/kRkaZbAf3P
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 15, 2021
Further south, London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) disclosed on Monday that they had given out 140 coronavirus fines worth a total of £39,000 in just two days in the two boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Amongst the instances outlined that resulted in fines included a party inside a Stamford Hill place of worship.
“Officers returned to the property later the same day and found further evidence of another large party. The organiser was reported for consideration of a £10,000 FPN [fixed penalty notice],” the force said.
Businesses in the areas operating and serving customers that were subsequently shut down included a bubble tea cafe, a mobile phone shop, and a pub.