Police officers escape fines for breaking Covid rules at lockdown barbecue

Five police officers who attended a barbecue during the first lockdown will not be fined despite flouting Covid-19 restrictions.

The off-duty officers attended a party during the spring Bank Holiday that led to an outbreak of coronavirus at their station in Warwickshire.

A total of six officers fell ill after the barbecue, held at a time when people could only meet one other person from another household outdoors.

The officers tested positive for Covid-19 after the Bank Holiday on May 25.

The station where they are based in Bedworth was deep cleaned and staff were told to take Covid-19 tests.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Police told Coventry Live: ‘In May 2020 Warwickshire Police identified that five police officers, whilst off duty, may have breached the Covid-19 regulations which were in place at that time.

‘In such circumstances with members of the public, the retrospective issuing of fixed penalty notices was not undertaken, with the force preferring instead to follow the national approach of all police forces at that time which was to explain the regulations and encourage compliance. 

‘However, recognising the importance of the role we have in protecting the public during the pandemic, we take all allegations of breaches by staff extremely seriously, and as such all the officers were subject of a formal investigation and subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings.’

The force would not comment on the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings and it’s not known if the officers investigated were among those who fell ill.

A spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘We can’t comment on the outcome of proceedings held in private.’

At the time, sources told the The Mail on Sunday that the force’s top brass was ‘on the warpath’ over the ‘stupidity’ of officers tasked with enforcing the lockdown.

An insider said: ‘It’s an utter shambles. Officers are worried for their families and the general public are being put at risk.’

The party was held after a neighbouring force, West Midlands, broke up a barbecue of more than 20 people and shared an image of a grill they had tipped over.

Warwickshire Police subequently worked with Public Health England to minimise the risk to the public and its workforce.

Warwickshire Police handed out 23 fixed penalty notices between March and April, according to newly released information.

They included seven contraventions of failing to comply with an instruction, 15 of relating to people flouting restrictions of movement and one of a person gathering in public in a group of more than two.

In November, the force imposed a £10,000 fine on a bar in Leamington which hosted a party with 100 people.

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