Police chief warns 'irresponsible' celebrities not to encourage Covid rulebreakers

17 January 2021, 12:20

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Celebrities have an "even greater responsibility" to abide by Covid-19 rules, a top police chief has told LBC, as the UK faces the toughest months of the pandemic so far.

Speaking exclusively to LBC, National Police Chiefs' Council chair Martin Hewitt said public figures and supermarkets should take more responsibility to promote restrictions and ensure they abide by them.

Several celebrities were caught partying during lockdown in what Chief Hewitt labelled "really irresponsible" acts.

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Most recently, actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox boasted on Twitter about getting round supermarket face mask rules by purchasing an exemption card from Amazon.

Asked what he made of the post, Chief Hewitt said it was "really irresponsible for anybody to not to do everything they can to abide by the rules".

He added: "I get this is really hard. We've all lived with this for the last 10 months, all of our lives have changed in one way or another, but I think it's irresponsible for people to try and do everything they can.

"If you somebody with prominence with a public voice then I think you have an even greater responsibility because others will follow your lead.

"All of us who have a public voice need to think really carefully about the way we're talking about this."

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Asked whether supermarkets should do more to stop customers refusing to comply with the rules, he told Swarbrick on Sunday that police "will always be there" if a situation turns violent but that shops should be enforcing the rules themselves.

"If there is a public order issue or a violence issue in a supermarket we will be there but I think it's really encouraging that the supermarkets and other retailers have really taken on that responsibility to make sure that, within the confines of their premises, they're playing their part.

He added: "I think inside premises like that and how people go in, as you say we're seeing queues again... I think that is the responsibility of whoever runs and owns that premises."

Chief Hewitt also urged the public to take "individual responsibility" and highlighted the urgency which police forces try to shut down "completely irresponsible" illegal parties and raves after seeing organisers promote events on social media.

"We are scanning across social media and through other information that we get because of course we want to prevent [illegal events] - as soon as 100 or 200 people have come together in a confined space then that is the perfect breeding ground for the virus.

Read more: Police officer assaulted while shutting down 150-person illegal party

"We will do everything we can to stop that happening in the first place and we will come down really hard on people who are organised those kind of events because in the current situation that is completely irresponsible."

His comments come after police were assaulted trying to shut down a 150-person rave in Hertfordshire earlier this week.

You can listen to Swarbrick on Sunday from 10am every week on LBC and catch up on Global Player.