Police force slammed for 'shameful' pic of spot checks on rail passengers in Wales 'fire-break' lockdown

A WELSH police force has been slammed for a "shameful" photo of spot checks on train passengers during a 17-day firebreak lockdown.

British Transport Police has faced fury online after sharing a photo of officers wearing masks crowding around a seat on a train service.

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The tweet read: "We are checking if your journey is essential! Please stay at home!"

It comes as:

  • A shopper who ripped coverings of 'non-essential' goods in a supermarket has been charged with criminal damage
  • A dad tried to go into Tesco wearing just his pants after telling staff 'I thought clothes were non-essential'
  • Kay Burley clashed with a Welsh minister over whether hairdryers are 'essential'
  • Shoppers are told they can buy Christmas puddings and dog treats – but not umbrellas
  • Wales bans tourists from the UK's coronavirus hotspots

But after a huge backlash, officers deleted it altogether – and posted a string of clarifications.

They said: "Right folks – the last tweet generated a fair amount of comment so let's put a few things straight.

"Wales is on lockdown. You should not be out without a reasonable excuse.

"It is our job to enforce the current regulations. We did this throughout the previous lockdown too.

"This means asking why people are travelling.

"Tonight, everyone we have spoken to has been travelling legitimately.

"The lockdown is there to stop the spread of this virus. We all need to do our bit.

"Only those who think the rules don't apply to them and selfishly break them, need to be worried about being spoken to by us.

"We want this virus to go away as much as everyone else. We all need to do our bit to achieve that."

However, social media users have called the incident "shameful".

One said: "As a retired police officer I would feel very uneasy at the way you are dealing with this.

"Moreover your manner in these tweets is very confrontational and sounds very political. You will lose the public on this."

Another said: "No sane person wants to be treated like this.

"The way the police are behaving is a disgrace."

A third said: "Want this virus to 'go away'?

"We keep being reminded that this virus is here to stay. How does anyone think it's magically going away?"

It comes after shoppers vented their fury at supermarkets being told they can't sell 'non-essential' items.

Stores are now unable to sell clothes to customers and staff are being told to prioritise the sale of "important" essential goods during the 17-day lockdown.

The decision to tape off items including kettles, children's clothes, warm jumpers, birthday cards, duvets and mops has caused widespread anger.

All non-essential shops, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels must shut altogether during the restrictions, which came into force on Friday evening.

Food shops, off-licences, pharmacies, banks and post offices are allowed to remain open.

And today, it's been confirmed that Welsh ministers are considering another firebreak in January or February.

Deputy minister for economy and transport Lee Waters told BBC Radio Wales Sunday Supplement programme: “This is not the last lockdown we are going to see.

“The projections and papers we published on our worse-case scenario projections show it is likely we are going to need another firebreak in January or February.”

Despite the plans to continue with short, sharp lockdowns, Welsh ministers have struggled to defend their "trolley police" rules.

However, First Minister Mark Drakeford – who has been labelled 'power mad' by a Tory MP – said: "It is a straightforward matter of fairness – we are in this together here in Wales.

"No individual and no organisation is above the effort that we are all required to make.

"That includes people who may believe that they themselves are beyond the law, and includes those organisations that are large and powerful."

So, what does count as ‘essential’ in Wales?

Welsh people can buy products that would normally sold in:

  • Food and drink retailers (including off licences)
  • Newsagents
  • Building supplies and hardware stores
  • Pharmacies and chemists
  • Bicycle shops
  • Petrol stations
  • Garages and vehicle hire businesses
  • Post offices, banks, building societies and similar
  • Pet shops
  • Agricultural and aquacultural supplies shops
  • Livestock markets and auctions
  • Batteries, light bulbs and rubber gloves may continue to be sold.

The rules state: "Businesses which would normally sell a range of products in their stores may only sell those items which fall into the categories above.

"This is likely to mean some areas of stores should be closed to customer access. It will be important though for such stores to manage access to different categories of goods in a way that ensures customers and staff can circulate safely within the store.

"Some products may need to remain available to avoid creating unnecessary constraints on a mixed product aisle to the safe circulation of customers."

More than 50,000 people have now signed the largest-ever Senedd petition contesting the rules on 'non-essential goods'.

Now Mr Drakeford has confirmed the rule will be reviewed next week.

He said: "We’ll be reviewing how the weekend has gone with the supermarkets and making sure that common sense is applied.

"Supermarkets can sell anything that can be sold in any other type of shop that isn't required to close.

"In the meantime, please only leave home if you need to."

Andrew RT Davies, the Conservative shadow health minister, tweeted this week: "The power is going to their heads."

He later added: "Is a flagon of Strongbow deemed essential? What about some much-needed underpants if you're caught short?

"I do hope there is some published guidance on what the Labour commissars deem as essential."

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