The UK’s most senior police officer has assured the public that family Christmas dinners will not be interrupted in an attempt to catch Covid-19 rule breakers.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, said the force will work with whatever restrictions are put in place by the government over the festive period, but police have no powers of entry.
Large parties will be stopped
Speaking during an LBC radio phone-in on 20 November, Dame Dick said she has “no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners,” adding that police “have lots of other things to be doing.”
However, while the force does not have the authority to enter people’s homes to enforce coronavirus legislation, she did warn that police would break up huge gatherings or parties that are reported.
She said, “We have no powers of entry. I have no intention in any way of encouraging my people to be barging through people’s doors or knocking on people’s doors, unless you’ve got, as we sometimes do - and then they can’t barge, they may knock - a huge party going on, which is clearly very, very dangerous and causing lots of concern with the neighbours.
“Well then we might be knocking on the door saying, ‘You need to stop this.’”
‘About getting the balance right’
While the government is yet to confirm the plans for Christmas, reports suggest that households may be allowed to mix indoors for a five day period, from Christmas Eve.
It has also been suggested that ministers are considering plans to allow three or four households to form bubbles.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on 20 November that some rules will need to be in place over Christmas, but the government is keen for people to have “some joy” after a “terrible year.”
Mr Hancock said families will still need to observe social distancing as they come together to keep the virus under control, and discussions with the devolved nations are ongoing, to determine how festive celebrations will work.
Speaking on Times Radio, he said, “It’s about getting the balance right and allowing people to have a Christmas that undoubtedly will be different this year, but still try to have that cherished Christmas with your family as much as possible.
“What we want to have is a set of rules that is, if at all possible, consistent across the four nations of the UK, not least because so many people travel to see their family at Christmas time, but also respects the fact that we must follow social distancing to keep the virus under control.
“I’ve got no doubt that people will continue to respect social distancing throughout, because we know that that is so important for full control of the virus.”