Dozens of police officers caught breaching coronavirus restrictions during pandemic

- SKY NEWS - JUNE 25, 2021 - DAVID MERCER -

Nearly half of UK police forces failed to say how many officers have breached COVID restrictions

One police constable failed to self-isolate with COVID symptoms, while several officers were fined for attending parties.


More than 160 police officers in the UK have been caught breaching coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic, Sky News can reveal.


One police constable failed to self-isolate despite having COVID symptoms, while several officers were fined for attending parties that broke lockdown rules.


At least 167 officers were found to have breached coronavirus restrictions since March 2020 - but the actual number is likely to be much higher as nearly half of UK police forces failed to say how many had flouted the measures.


A further 35 members of police staff, who do not work as officers, were also found to have breached the regulations, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.


The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) told Sky News that "nobody is above the law" and when officers have broken rules "it is right that they are held to account".


Nurse Karen Reissmann, who is challenging a £10,000 fine issued by police for staging a protest over NHS pay in Manchester, said the number of officers caught breaching COVID restrictions was "shocking".


"It's their job to enforce those rules," she told Sky News.


"If the police don't understand the rules, or think they don't apply to them, that's quite worrying."


Ms Reissmann said "it reduces the credibility" of officers issuing COVID fines if they or their colleagues are not abiding by the restrictions themselves.


"Some of those (breaches) are clearly high-risk activities that potentially increase the spread (of the virus)," she added.


Just 27 police forces out of 45 across the UK and British Transport Police (BTP) provided details about their employees' COVID rule breaches.


Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, West Yorkshire Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) were among those failing to respond.


The highest-ranking officer to have broken COVID restrictions was an inspector at Avon and Somerset Police, followed by several sergeants across different forces.


Among the COVID rule breaches:


• Devon and Cornwall Police said 20 constables, a sergeant and six other members of staff were found to have broken the rules. They included 12 breaches for attending unauthorised gatherings and three for failing to self-isolate while awaiting the result of COVID tests

• Police Scotland said 21 officers were found to have breached restrictions, including 17 officers who attended unauthorised social gatherings and four officers who failed to self-isolate despite being told to by NHS Test and Trace

• BTP said a constable failed to self-isolate when displaying COVID symptoms in January, and another officer broke the rules with an overseas trip during the national lockdown in February

• Merseyside Police said four officers attended parties that broke lockdown rules, and another officer was fined for going to a party when they should have been quarantining

• Derbyshire Police said two officers were each fined £200 by a neighbouring force "for being away from home without a reasonable excuse" in February

• North Wales Police said an officer was given a fixed penalty notice in January for "exercising in a prohibited area"

• Avon and Somerset Police said an officer "openly breached COVID-19 laws by going to a party", and a member of police staff posted a message on social media "openly breaching" COVID government guidelines in May 2020

• Norfolk Police said a constable was given a written warning after failing to self-isolate following a COVID test in October

• The same force said a member of police staff was given a written warning after "knowingly breaching coronavirus legislation" in May 2020. The employee was "not honest to police officers and failed to act with self-control, respect and courtesy towards a member of the public"