Police shouldn’t be ‘pinning people walking through parks to floor’, says senior officer | UK | News (Reports)

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John Apter, Police Federation chairman, said throughout 28 years of service he could never have dreamt there would be such restrictions on people’s freedom. And he hoped the relationship between police and the public will survive and hopefully strengthen post-pandemic. He spoke as 12 anti-lockdown protesters were held during a gathering on Clapham Common in south London yesterday. Six police vans were sent to the scene while officers moved a crowd of about 30 people away.

Mr Apter said: “We are policing in a way we never would have expected. We have been given powers that were unimaginable.

“I would never have dreamt in any training scenario I’ve done or in every off-the-wall exercise I have ever been involved in, it’s never been as dramatic as the reality that we are living. That is why we have to make sure we come out of this stronger and better.”

Mr Apter said it would only be those who were blatantly breaching restrictions with parties and gathering in large groups who should feel the full force of the law.

He said: “What you are not going to get if you see more than two people walking through a park, is a SWAT team descending on them and pinning them to the floor.

“You are not going to see us going through people’s shopping trolleys.

“We don’t want power of entry to kick in doors.”

Mr Apter said: “Where people push back, there will still be that enforcement, the sensible, law-abiding public will see no difference.”

Police chiefs have warned there would be stricter enforcement of lockdown restrictions than in March.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The vast majority of the public has supported this huge national effort.

“But the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules.”

Derbyshire Police, which was criticised in March for using drones to spy on hill walkers, had to back pedal yesterday after two women arriving for a walk at a remote reservoir around five miles from their homes were handed £200 fines for alleged breaches of lockdown laws and told a hot drink they brought meant they were having a picnic.

However, it subsequently said it would review all fines issued after it received further guidance the National Police Chiefs’ Council which said there was no restriction on the distance travelled for exercise.

The owners of a Hackney gym were fined on Friday for breaching Covid-19 rules by remaining open.

Officers found the gym open with three people inside and its owners were issued a £1,000 fixed penalty notice.

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