BRITAIN’S most senior police officer has said she hopes shoppers refusing to wear masks will be ‘shamed’ into compliance as calling police should be a ‘last resort’.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said if store staff are concerned and ‘have tried everything else’, her officers will try to assist.
She told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: ‘Calling the police should be a last resort for dealing with a mask issue. But of course the law is the law.’
Face coverings will become mandatory in shops from tomorrow as part of efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19.
Latest government figures show 45,501 people have died in UK hospitals, care homes and the wider community from coronavirus, with the death toll rising 79 in a day. However, separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies put the toll at 56,100.
Dame Cressida said: ‘My hope is that the vast majority of people will comply, and that people who are not complying will be shamed into complying or shamed to leave the store by the store keepers or by other members of the public.’
She said that supermarkets have managed to maintain social distancing and queuing themselves, only rarely needing police aid. She said: ‘They’ve only called us rarely to assist, and that is what I hope would happen on this occasion.’
The police and crime commissioners for Devon and Cornwall and Thames Valley have said officers will not attend incidents where shoppers refuse to wear masks, unless they turn violent.
Andy Marsh, chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, told a Facebook Live session the force has ‘very limited capacity’ to enforce the rules, and would have a role in ‘a tiny minority’ of cases.
He said: ‘It certainly won’t be the case that we will be encouraging people to call us if you see someone not wearing a face mask. And I can’t offer any assurance that police officers will routinely be able to attend such incidents.’