Home Secretary Priti Patel has responded to reports police will be visiting people on Christmas Day – and through the festive season – to break up family gatherings.
New lockdown rules have come into force in England and mean you are not allowed to have people visit your home.
Even after the rules expire on December 2 England is likely to return to the rule of six – meaning in the lowest tier areas you will only be allowed to have up to six people in a house at once – unless they all live at the address.
Police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said officers will investigate large Christmas gatherings and if there are big groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be then officers will be forced to intervene.
“We are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes,” he said.
He told The Telegraph : “If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene.
“If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce. It’s not the police’s job to stop people enjoying their Christmas.”
Mr Jamieson added: “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.”
But Priti Patel has said police will not be breaking up family gatherings on Christmas Day, although she vowed to crack down on those breaking lockdown rules.
She told talkRADIO ‘s Drivetime show: “Of course the police will not be doing that. That’s a minority view and that’s a police and crime commissioner expressing his own personal view and opinion.
“I speak to policing leaders every day, across the country including chief constables, from the college of policing the NPCC, the real leaders out there that are directing and guiding and helping us put into regulation sensible and practical policing measures, that will keep the public safe in the long run.”
Ms Patel said the minority breaking rules shouldn’t be allowed to ‘endanger’ the majority following the law, the Daily Mail reports.
Mr Jamieson, who runs policing in the West Midlands, later said there was “no appetite” to break up minor Christmas parties.
He said he would be “very surprised” if police broke up “minor infringements”, Birmingham Mail reported.
He said there will not be the “time or the scope” to deal with festive gatherings that breach the rules.
“As I said at the outset, the police do not make the rules or the laws – the police have to make sure that they are enforced,” he said.
“The policing is always proportionate, and there has to be discretion. Is there an appetite, or the resources, to be breaking up Christmas parties and minor infringements of the law?
“I very, very much doubt it, and I’d be very surprised if that was happening.”
Mr Jamieson did warn those planning large scale get togethers that they would not be beyond the law.
“I think the situation as it is now, where there have been larger gatherings where probably 30 or 40 people have gathered at a house, and clearly, flagrantly ignoring the Covid rules, that is where the police would be expected by the whole community to step in and enforce the law,” he continued.
“So for the minor infringements, there just will not be the time or scope to do it – that’s not what the police do in this country.
“But we are very clear, where people are ignoring the laws and putting themselves and the community at risk, we will step in and take action.”