Police won’t patrol shop aisles to enforce mask wearing in Barking and Dagenham, top cop says

Face masks will become mandatory in shops in England from Friday, July 24. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA

Face masks will become mandatory in shops in England from Friday, July 24. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA - Credit: PA

It will not be a priority for officers to deal with people not wearing masks in Barking and Dagenham’s shops, a police chief has said.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman spoke to the Post about what the Met’s role could be in enforcing new rules that are set to come into force around donning masks in shops.

The Government announced earlier this month that face coverings in England’s shops and supermarkets will be mandatory from July 24.

Det Ch Supt Clayman said the force is waiting to hear what its involvement will be in policing the new rules.

He said: “In my view it is simply not a priority for us clearly but of course we will deal with it when we need to.

“At the moment we have got to concentrate on more pressing things around crime.”

The police chief, who commands the force in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, felt that officers would treat people who aren’t complying with the face mask rules in a similar way to how they policed restrictions around gatherings.

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He added: “We will deal with it exactly the same way, I suspect, as we did with the other Covid rules - around encouraging and explaining. The fine is the last thing we do if we have to.

“I can’t see us being any different because this is for people’s wellbeing ultimately. This is to help them and about protecting other people. But I don’t envisage we will be patrolling the aisles of Tesco.”

Det Ch Supt Clayman said shops themselves will take some responsibility for ensuring customers wear masks but said police are likely to get involved if someone is “playing up and is aggressive towards shop staff because they won’t wear their mask”.

He added: “I think retailers have the choice of who they let in.

“If people don’t want to wear a mask I suppose it is the shop’s right to reserve the right who they let in. Clearly if there’s a problem then we will be called.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the legislative update yet and then we will react to it accordingly.”