The Chief Constable of Lancashire Police has said using the excuse of ‘being a bit confused’ to flout lockdown rules was becoming all-too common.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning, Andy Rhodes said a lot of good work was being done by ‘sensible’ event organisers to get around the disappointment of event cancellations over the Bank Holiday weekend, but urged people not to risk certain ‘freedoms’ that were starting to return.
His comments come at the same time as Home Secretary, Priti Patel lashed out at the organisers of illegal raves, warning them they are ‘not above the law’, and promised a crackdown on such events, with fines of up to £10,000 for organisers.
Mr Rhodes told BBC Breakfast: “Given it’s the bank holiday weekend, what we’re saying to people is be sensible, respect the work that some of the people have put into trying to arrange events sensibly, if they’re online etc.
“Try and get the best out of those, but do it within the law and do it safely, without risking creating a spike in infections in your local community, because we have seen across the North West just how damaging that can be to the economy, to vulnerable people.
“It takes away some of those freedoms that we’re starting to get back, so our message is enjoy yourself but do it sensibly and don’t go anywhere near anyone who’s trying to organise events that are illegal.”
Mr Rhodes said varying guidelines were inevitably confusing but that uncertainty was becoming an excuse for some rule-breakers.
He added: “What we’re looking at here is being proportionate, so if we think that people have thought about it and they are confused, we turn up and deal with the situation.
“The vast majority of times across the country the police are just giving advice out and asking people to do things differently.
“But we’ve had people who have clearly, fragrantly, ignored the rules and had a wedding for 200 people.
“There’s no one anywhere who could misinterpret the current rules to say that 200 people in your back garden or in your house or in an area is going to be OK.
“There’s a world of difference between good people who are doing their best to enjoy themselves and they’re a bit confused, and people that are clearly just ignoring the normal rules that the rest of us are trying to abide by.
“Being confused is becoming a bit of an excuse for some people at the moment.”