MORE than 100 Hertfordshire police formed a ring of steel around a traveller funeral to ensure Covid restrictions weren’t breached.
Officers were out in force around St Helen’s Catholic Church in North Watford after they received reports that hundreds could try to attend the funeral.
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Under the coronavirus laws, a maximum of 30 people are permitted to attend a funeral service.
From first light this morning, police began taking up positions around St Helen’s church with police vehicles parking in the surrounding streets.
The operation is thought to have cost tens of thousands of pounds and included dozens of police motorcycles and six riot vans, the Daily Mail reports.
There 30 mourners inside the church but a dozen attended and stayed outside police lines.
Onlookers estimated that the police in attendance outnumbered the mourners by three-to-one.
Hertfordshire Constabulary said it had been liaising with family members, funeral directors, church, local authority and other agencies ahead of the funeral.
The coffin was transferred to a glass carriage pulled by four horses with black that led 30 mourners into the cemetery at Dunstable.
One of the limousines had the word ‘MUMMY’ written in blue and white flowers.
Once more a large police presence was in the area to make sure only 30 mourners including close family were at the graveside.
“The deceased person has a large family and it is likely that well over the permitted 30-people will attempt to attend the funeral,” said Superintendent Nick Caveney.
“Whilst our sympathies are with the bereaved family at what is understandably a very difficult time, observing lockdown rules is absolutely paramount, to help stop the spread of the virus and save lives.
“I sympathise with anyone who is grieving the loss of a relative at this time and I understand that it is really difficult not being able to mourn in the way you normally would.
“However, we all have to remember that the rules are in place for a reason and the vast majority of people are doing the right thing.”
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Earlier today Peter Taylor, the Mayor of Watford, said that police would ensure there would be “minimal impact on Watford residents”.
“Safety is our number one priority, which is why the police are taking precautions and will be increasing police presence in north Watford before, during and after the funeral,” he said.
“Although we sympathise with the bereaved, we have made it very clear that large gatherings will not be tolerated and we expect COVID-19 rules to be followed by everyone.”