Former Met Commissioner brands military use in pandemic "tantamount to martial law"

23 September 2020, 10:02 | Updated: 23 September 2020, 10:05

By Fiona Jones

Former Met Commissioner Lord John Stevens brands military involvement in enforcing coronavirus restrictions as "tantamount to martial law" and explains why it is "dangerous."

Boris Johnson has announced that a series of tough new coronavirus measures could stay in effect for the next six months.

Amongst the announcements, the PM said that the military could be deployed in England to help police officers enforce the new restrictions.

Nick confronted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over these measures and Mr Raab clarified, "The point is they will backfill and provide extra capacity where the police need it so that it frees the police up to do the frontline work that's important for them."

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner and expert on international security Lord John Stevens told LBC of his disapproval of this plan.

Lord John said the army are a "blunt instrument, they are there to kill, they're not there to have the delicate kind of touch the police have to have."

"We don't want martial law in this country...I think this is a dangerous escalation," he said, "they can be there to back up police officers in times of national emergency, but we want to be absolutely sure they know their role."

Lord John said it is "dangerous" for the military to be involved because "when you're calling in the military on the streets then the police have lost the streets and it's tantamount to martial law."

The former commissioner said that despite the fact the police are stretched and the attacks on officers is a national scandal, his ex-colleagues are adamant they do not want military assistance.

However he reflected that the Prime Minister's announcement did not have a "very specific" outline of how the army will be deployed - he pointed out that the police's priority would not be enforcing Covid restrictions with homicides, knife crime and abuse occurring.

The Ministry of Defence responded to concerns about military on the streets shortly after the Prime Minister's Commons announcement:

"The military have well-rehearsed contingency plans in place to support police services, with 500 military personnel now available to backfill armed guarding duties if required by the Home Office.

"The military will not be undertaking any public-order or enforcement activities."

Watch the full interview above.