"Things are very on the edge in a lot of communities"
According to a police chief, officers will go into peoples’ homes and break up Christmas family celebrations if they flout lockdown rules.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said officers will investigate reports of rulebreaking over the Christmas period.
Mr Jamieson told The Telegraph:
“If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene. If again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.
“It’s not the police’s job to stop people enjoying their Christmas.
“However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules then the Government has to explain that to the public.”
Communities preparing to celebrate festivals like Diwali have been warned to expect police visits if they break Covid-19 rules.
The three-tier system was unveiled in early October 2020 in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 in regional areas.
Merseyside PCC Jane Kennedy said she would also investigate reports of illegal gatherings over Christmas.
However, Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands, with the end of the furlough scheme “very likely” to push people over the edge.
He said: “We’re sitting on a time bomb here. We’re getting very near the stage where you could see a considerable explosion of frustration and energy.
“Things are very on the edge in a lot of communities and it wouldn’t take very much to spark off unrest, riots, damage.”
Heavy-handed police forces shutting down celebrations could lead to riots.
Forces in Manchester, London and Merseyside are concerned about the potential violence also.
This comes as Government scientists warn that there is very little chance of a traditional Christmas.
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said that by Christmas, virus rates all over England will soar past the levels seen in areas already in ‘Tier 3’.
Professor John Edmunds said that “radical action” is needed to stem the rise in cases. He said that a circuit-breaker lockdown is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where cases are high.
He said: “The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts.
“The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.”
A spokesperson for 10 Downing Street previously said:
“The PM has been clear previously that he is hopeful that in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas.
“As I say, we’ve been clear about the ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year.”
The comments contrasted with the stance taken by Treasury Chief Secretary Steve Barclay.
He said: “I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.
“And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.
“But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do.”