UK Police Chiefs Warn Cops 'Will Break Up Christmas Dinners' if Families Breach Rules
Police commissioner says officers will 'enter homes' of those who break COVID lockdowns
Officers will enter people's homes and break up their Christmas dinners if families are suspected of breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules over the festive period, UK police chiefs are warning.
The West Midlands police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson, said officers will investigate reports of lockdown rule-breaking over Christmas and New Year.
The UK is currently under a three-tier local lockdown system, with "Tier 1" being the most relaxed, while "Tier 3" is the most severe.
The West Midlands is currently under Tier 2 restrictions, meaning people cannot mix with any other households indoors, making family gatherings over Christmas impossible in many cases.
Cops will be seeking to break up any family celebrations if they flout lockdown rules.
"If we think there's large groups of people gathering where they shouldn't be, then police will have to intervene," Mr. Jamieson told The Telegraph.
"If, again, there's flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce," Jamieson continued.
"It's not the police's job to stop people enjoying their Christmas.
"However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules then the Government has to explain that to the public."
The police chief also warned about the upcoming Hanukkah and Diwali celebrations which will also see families eager to gather inside, contrary to the rules in certain areas.
The three-tier system was introduced earlier this month in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in regional hotspots.
Jane Kennedy, the PCC in Merseyside, which is currently a Tier 3 region, said she would also investigate reports of illegal gatherings over Christmas.
Mr. Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of financial support from the government furlough scheme "very likely" to push people over the edge.
He said: "We're sitting on a time bomb here.
"We're getting very near the stage where you could see a considerable explosion of frustration and energy.
"Things are very on the edge in a lot of communities and it wouldn't take very much to spark off unrest, riots, damage."
The police chief even compared the febrile situation to the 2011 riots sparked by the death of Mark Duggan, which saw violence spread across UK cities.
He fears the trigger this time could be heavy-handed police forces shutting down celebrations and enforcing harsh restrictions.
He said people who have never been involved in crime could suddenly become emboldened to take part in the disobedience.
Forces in Manchester, London, and Merseyside are concerned about potential violence, he added.
But Ms. Kennedy disagreed, saying she doesn't believe we are on the brink of serious disorder.
Their comments come after BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire admitted that if the rule of six were still in place by Christmas, she would ignore it.
She later backtracked from this stance, but her initial statement reflected an increasingly widespread disenchantment with the current rules.
The idea that "we can carry on as we are" and have a normal Christmas "is wishful thinking in the extreme," a Government scientific adviser has said.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said "radical action" would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.
Prof Edmunds, who told MPs that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.
He said that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.
"The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts," he said.
"The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme."
A No10 spokesman previously said: "The PM has been clear previously that he is hopeful that in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas.
"As I say, we've been clear about the ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year."
The comments contrasted with the stance taken by Treasury Chief Secretary Steve Barclay in a round of interviews on Friday morning.
He said: "I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.
"And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.
"But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do."