Coronavirus: Third of Britons think police have gone ‘too far’ in enforcing lockdown

A third of the public think the police have gone “too far” to enforce coronavirus lockdown measures, a survey suggests.

A YouGov poll asked 1,646 adults between Friday and Sunday for their views on the police’s handling of the new laws and government guidance to keep people indoors and slow the spread of COVID-19.

It found that 42% of respondents fully support the approach taken by the police, but a further 32% felt they had gone too far in some cases.

There have been claims some forces have been overzealous in their approach to policing the new laws and guidance since social distancing enforcement measures were put in place.

About 14% said the police should take tougher action, while 6% felt their approach to date had been too heavy handed.

According to the poll, 72% were comfortable with the police arresting someone who had failed to comply with an instruction to return home, while 22% were uncomfortable.

Half of respondents said they had no objections to forces using drones to photograph people making unnecessary journeys – as was the case in Derbyshire – as well as using facial recognition in public places to identify people who were not adhering to the lockdown rules.

But 43% and 42% respectively felt uncomfortable with these proposals.

The survey found that while around 70% agreed with the use of roadblocks, more than half (54%) did not like the idea of naming and shaming those who flouted the rules on social media.

Londoners were found to be least likely to be fully supportive of the police approach (35%), with people in Scotland the most likely to be fully supportive (48%).

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Joe Caluori, head of policy at Crest Advisory, said the survey “underlines the challenge police forces have in striking a balance between effective enforcement of the lockdown” as well as the need to maintain Britain’s model of policing by consent.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt urged the public to follow social distancing rules to protect the NHS.

He said: “Officers may have to ask people about their circumstances if they’re outdoors.

“We will engage with the public, explain the social distancing regulations and the responsibilities we all share, and encourage those who are out without good reason to go back home.”

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He added that those who do not comply may be issued a fine as a last resort.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Our police are doing a fantastic job keeping us safe and protecting the NHS by ensuring the public stay at home, and using emergency powers only when necessary.

“We’re pleased that the vast majority of the public support the police in their approach.”

*story by Sky News