- SKY NEWS - Apr 3, 2021 -
Lucia Binding -
Footage captured officers interrupting a Friday evening service at Christ the King Polish church in Balham.
Police shut down a Good Friday service at a Polish church in south London for breaching coronavirus rules and threatened worshippers with a £200 fine each.
Footage captured officers interrupting a Liturgy of the Lord's Passion service at Christ the King Polish church in Balham at around 6pm on Friday.
He added: "You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law."
"At this moment in time you need to go home. Failure to comply with this direction to leave and go to your home address, ultimately could lead you to be fined £200 or, if you fail to give your details, to you being arrested.
"It's Good Friday and I appreciate you would like to worship, but it is unlawful," he said.
The church has criticised the police for interrupting the service, saying it believes the officers "brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good reason" because "all government requirements were met".
It said it had informed the superiors of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales about the incident and asked the police to explain.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed an "engagement" took place at the church, adding they were called to a report of "crowds of people queuing outside a church in Balham High Road".
Police said they "engaged with the priest" outside the church and understood the sensitivity of the situation, and were invited inside to address the congregation. They said no fines were issued.
"Officers attended and found a large number of people inside the church. Some people were not wearing masks and those present were clearly not socially distanced," the police statement said.