Police urged to act after ‘up to 70’ mourners attend funeral despite 30-person limit
Family and friends pay their respects during the funeral (Image: ANDREW CARPENTER)
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A council leader is calling on the police to take action after ‘up to 70’ mourners allegedly gathered at a funeral.
The Government Covid-19 rules state: “Funeral ceremonies must have no more than 30 people attending, whether indoors or outdoors. This number does not include funeral staff.”
Councillor Phil King called on police to act after claims more than double the allowed number went to the service for a well-known traveller at the Northampton Road cemetery in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
Police have admitted that “additional mourners” did go along to pay their respects last Thursday, but insisted it passed off in a “safe and peaceful manner”.
An eyewitness, who did not want to be named, told Leicestershire Live he was at the cemetery.
“There were at least 20 vehicles there and between 60 to 70-people at the service,” he said.
“I must admit I thought everyone was only allowed a maximum of 30 mourners at a funeral. The police were there, but they just looked on.”
The funeral in Market Harborough
(Image: ANDREW CARPENTER)
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Councillor Phil King, leader of Harborough District Council, said: “We would have clearly told them that no more than 30 people were permitted to attend.
“We wouldn’t have turned a blind eye.
“The police have admitted themselves that over 30 people turned up. It was a service for a well-known member of the traveller community.
“I will be keenly waiting to discover if they take any action here and fine the people involved.
“The Chief Constable has got to take the appropriate action.
“I do not believe that the police have any discretionary powers – allowing them to decide who and who should not attend funerals.
A Leicestershire Police spokesperson said they had been told about the service
(Image: ANDREW CARPENTER)
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“That sort of approach would lead to free-for-alls and total chaos at events like this.
“This is exactly how this virus is spread – through big gatherings of this nature.
“And I understand that the virus is on the rise across Leicestershire – so this is the last thing we need.
“The police enforce the rules and I would expect them to take affirmative action urgently.
“We cannot have one rule for one and one rule for another.
“I understand entirely if people who haven’t been allowed to attend funerals that they would have liked to have gone to this year are upset by this.
“It’s very disappointing that some groups are still choosing to ignore the requirements.
“Many other families have abided by these strict rules governing funeral attendance at a great emotional cost to themselves and their loved ones.
“Restrictions at funerals have been clearly and repeatedly articulated by the Government for many months now.
“So there is no excuse for not knowing the rules.”
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien said everyone had to be treated equally.
“It’s very important that the law regarding funerals is applied equally to everybody across Harborough," he said.
“I am concerned that many members of the public have made huge sacrifices this year and not been able to attend the funerals of their friends and loved ones.
“It’s crucial that everybody is treated equally before the law.”
A Leicestershire Police spokesperson said they had been told about the service.
“We received advanced notice of a funeral due to take place at the Evangelical Church in Bath Street, Market Harborough, on Thursday November 12,” he said.
“Police, along with colleagues from partner agencies, engaged with members of the deceased’s family prior to the funeral.
“The deceased’s family acknowledged the restrictions currently in place that limit the number of funeral attendees to 30 people.
“It was agreed officers from the Market Harborough Neighbourhood Policing Area (NPA) would monitor proceedings.
“Officers observed that a small number of additional mourners attended to pay their respects, but remained at a safe distance from one another in line with the current restrictions and the funeral took place in a safe and peaceful manner.”
A Harborough council spokesman said: “We worked in advance with the police and the deceased’s family to ensure the current Covid-19 requirements were understood.
“We had officers on site at the time of the funeral who monitored the proceedings and liaised with the police.”