People have been told to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and only going out for daily exercise, to buy food and medicine or to travel to work, when they cannot work from home – but they remain free to use their gardens under the restrictions.
So Daniel Connell was understandably surprised when a police officer told him to leave the front lawn of his house in Ferham, Rotherham, where he and his partner had been playing with their two young daughters yesterday afternoon, and get inside.
He recorded the encounter, in which the officer can be heard telling him ‘you have to stay indoors because of COVID-19…. you cannot come on your front garden’, before adding ‘we have government powers to ask people to stay indoors’.
The footage was shared on Twitter where it has been viewed more than 300,000 times, and South Yorkshire Police has now apologised for the officer’s actions.
The force tweeted: “This encounter was well-intentioned but ill-informed and we’d like to apologise for the way it was handled. We’ve spoken to the officer concerned and made our approach absolutely clear.”
Mr Connell, a 23-year-old former forklift truck driver who was recently laid off due to the pandemic, said: “The same officer had told my missus the same thing the day before, so when she came back I decided to film her because I thought no one would believe me otherwise.
“We were just playing in the front garden with our daughters and we weren’t going near the pavement, so I was shocked when she told us to get inside. I think the police are just trying to abuse their powers with this lockdown.”
Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford got involved after the video was shared, tweeting: “This is clearly not right. Whilst I cannot see full context of the video, people are of course allowed to be in their gardens – front or back – and should be allowed to continue to do so. This is clearly an overreach.”