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Coronavirus: Priti Patel says anyone who assaults a police officer ‘will feel the full force of the law’ | Politics News



The Home secretary said the behaviour of protesters and partiers breaking social distancing rules is “unacceptable” and warned that anyone assaulting police officers trying to control disorder would “face the full force of the law”.

Priti Patel condemned the assault against 30 officers who were hurt while shutting down an illegal rave and pockets of violence at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in recent weeks.

She also urged sunseekers to “think about other people” and not spread COVID-19, after thousands packed Bournemouth beach days ago.

Priti Patel
Priti Patel said there is a growing number of parties and protests as lockdown is eased

Ms Patel said there were 30,000 assaults on police last year and that she will be pushing to double sentences for attacks on emergency service workers.

She added the number of protests and parties as coronavirus emergency measures are eased is “growing”.

Chaos as police confront street party

“I would urge people not to participate in gatherings of that nature or protest,” she told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“If people do assault police officers, they will face the full force of the law. That is absolutely the right approach.

“It is simply unacceptable to have people gathering in some of these awful ways we’ve been seeing.”

An injured police officer is tended to during a rally in Parliament Square
The home secretary said mass gatherings were ‘simply unacceptable’

Ms Patel denied some may feel they were given licence to ignore the rules by the prime minister defending his chief aide Dominic Cummings for making a 30-minute trip police say may have broken the rules to allegedly test his eyesight while everyone was being told to “stay at home”.

“Of course it’s not” true, she said. “That issue has been and gone.”

Appealing to beachgoers not to pack on to seafronts and break social distancing rules, the home secretary added: “The public need to think about other people as well in terms of spreading the virus.

Police on the Brighton promenade. Pic: Hugo Michiels/LNP
A major incident was declared in Bournemouth. Pic: Hugo Michiels/LNP

“They themselves may not know they’re carrying the virus and they could be spreading that within the community and passing that on to other people

“We all have to take responsibility, we all have to act conscientiously.”

But the UK government came under fire from Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, who accused Boris Johnson of telling people “it’s all over and you can go back to doing what you did before”.

He claimed the policy in England was to make announcements first, then figure out how to make them work, but “we will continue to do things in the way we’ve done things in Wales – carefully, cautiously, one step at a time”.

Sir Mark Walport, a former chief scientific adviser, did say ministers in Whitehall “have been listening to the science throughout”.

But when asked if lockdown came too late, said: “History will probably show that it did.”

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