Anger at police commissioner’s claim officers could break up Christmas parties

28 October 2020, 11:00 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 14:06

By Ewan Somerville

A former police chief has branded suggestions officers could break-up Christmas dinners that breach coronavirus rules as “nonsense”.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, sparked a backlash by insisting officers would investigate reports made of rule-breaking during any festive celebrations.

“If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene,” he told the Telegraph.

“If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.”

Read more: Former Chief Constable tells LBC it's nonsense that police could break up Christmas

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside, Jane Kennedy, also told the paper that Christmas family gatherings that are reported to police would be investigated.

But Dr Stuart Hyde, the former chief constable of Cumbria Police, rubbished the warning, telling LBC officers would deal with rule breaking around Christmas “sensitively” rather than “kicking the door down and seizing the turkey.”

Christmas could be curtailed this year with bans on family gatherings
Christmas could be curtailed this year with bans on family gatherings. Picture: PA

“The idea of police officers charging through doors to disrupt people eating their turkey is, quite frankly, nonsense,” he said.

“I'm absolutely certain that the police officers not just in the West Midlands but across the country have started to get used to dealing with allegations and will deal with it appropriately.”

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also lashed out at the Christmas threat, calling it “utter madness” that resembles a “police state”.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey told Shelagh Fogharty on LBC today: “At the moment I don’t see the level of urgency and consistency across the governments to get the R rate down.

“Boris Johnson has ignored advice, Nicola Sturgeon has ignored advice coming from the experts… and I see a little bit of complacency frankly about Christmas.”

It comes as hundreds of thousands more people in Nottingham and Warrington enter the top tier of lockdown restrictions tonight, amid growing calls on Boris Johnson to impose even tighter restrictions as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. More than eight million in England are now under tier three rules.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told LBC that it is “too early to say” which coronavirus restrictions could be in place at Christmas as he refused to rule out a second national lockdown.

The Cabinet minister told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “It's too early to say though what restrictions will be in place by Christmas and obviously if we do need to have restrictions in place and prevent families from coming together in large gatherings, if that's necessary to control the virus, then that's what we'll have to do.”

The latest warnings come as Britain’s Covid-linked death toll climbed by 367 on Tuesday, the deadliest rise since May, with total registered deaths involving the virus reaching 61,000 in the UK .

Downing Street did not deny a projection provided by Government scientists which suggested the toll could remain high throughout the winter and result in more fatalities than in the spring.