UK’s top police officer urges government to clear up lockdown rules confusion
Cressida Dick said "anything that brings greater clarity for officers and the public in general will be a good thing" (Image: PA)
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Britain's top police officer has called on the Government to clear up confusion over coronavirus lockdown rules amid mounting anger at Boris Johnson's bike ride seven miles from Downing Street.
No10 has insisted the Prime Minister's Sunday afternoon cycle around the Olympic Park in East London did not break rules – despite orders to “stay local” when exercising.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to front a No 10 briefing later today as the Government focuses on tougher enforcement of lockdown rules to curb soaring rates of the virus.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said a clearer definition of what “stay local” meant in practice was needed.
She told the BBC: “Anything that brings greater clarity for officers and the public in general will be a good thing.”
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Dame Cressida stayed tight-lipped on what she thought of the PM's jaunt, but added: "What I can say is it is not against the law.”
She vowed that officers would launch a fresh crackdown on rule-breakers amid surging Covid-19 cases.
"We will move more quickly to enforcement, and particularly where somebody is breaking the law, breaking the regulations, and if it is absolutely clear that they must have known, or do know that they are, then we will move very swiftly to enforcement and fining people,” she told the BBC.
Asked about the row over Mr Johnson's bike ride, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse admitted “stay local” meant different things to different people.
He told Times Radio: "What we are asking people to do is when they exercise to stay local. Now, local is, obviously, open to interpretation, but people broadly know what local means.
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“If you can get there under your own steam and you are not interacting with somebody … then that seems perfectly reasonable to me."
Downing Street refuses to say whether the PM cycled or was driven to the Olympic Park, where he was spotted.
Mr Malthouse backed officers quizzing people over where they were going – but admitted it was a "significant change" in British policing.
"It's certainly the case that the police are going to be very high profile and they recognise the seriousness of the situation that is faced by their fellow workers in the health service and elsewhere,” he said.
"It's certainly part of police's job to stop people and enquire as to the reasons why they're outside their house.
“It is a very significant change and it's a challenge for British policing that relies on a model of consent.
“Such is the seriousness of the situation that we face that I think there's no other option.”