Hackney police chief's Covid warning

Borough commander Marcus Barnett voices concern over 'small minority breaking the rules in serious ways'


The head of policing in Hackney has said he would not apologise for enforcing Covid safety rules if there were breaches within the Jewish community. 

In a statement today, borough commander Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, said that by and large, communities across London, “including our Jewish community”, had “responded admirably” to the challenges of the pandemic. 

The “overwhelming majority” of Jewish residents had stuck to the rules.

“However, in recent weeks and months, I have been made aware by worried members of the community that there are a small minority breaking the rules in serious ways, such as holding events like ceremonial weddings attended by very large groups of people,” he said.

Last month, police broke up a wedding attended by 150 people in a hall at the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ High School. 

“We are all eager to get back to normality,” the police chief stressed. But currently, “these events are not only unlawful but are highly likely to spread the virus which continues to claim lives”. 

Officers would continue to use the Metropolitan Police’s four “e’s” approach – “engaging and explaining the legislation and encouraging people to follow the rules. However, where there are wilful and dangerous breaches, I will make no apology for enforcing those regulations.” 

He and his officers enjoyed “a very positive relationship” with Jewish residents and met regularly with faith leaders and local authority partners to discuss the regulations. 

“I understand that like the wider public, the Jewish community want action against those that breach the legislation. That is why we are clear on our police response and respond swiftly and professionally to reported breaches,” he said. 

Calling on everyone to adhere to the rules, he added: “Even with the infection rates now decreasing, this is not the time to be complacent but, rather, to drive home the hard-won gains and ensure Covid cannot re-establish its grip once more. We must all continue playing our part in fighting this virus and ensuring that more people do not needlessly lose their lives.” 

The family who hosted the Yesodey Hatorah wedding was reported for a £10,000 fine, as was another, unnamed person. 

In two earlier incidents in Stamford Hill involving Jewish celebrations, £10,000 fines were issued. 

The JC has also learned that the previous week officers reported six people for fixed penalty notices after visiting one Jewish building in Hackney twice on a weekday for "contravening a requirement not to participate in a gathering under the Health Protection Regulations".

The Shabbat before that, police attended a synagogue in Stamford Hill after reports of people not social distancing or wearing masks. 

According to the Met, occupants of the synagogue “delayed police entry. Once entry was made, all occupants were wearing masks and social distancing.” 

Police gave "firm, advice" on sticking to Covid regulations but took no further action. 






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