Police say don't Clap For Carers on Westminster Bridge tonight

Met Police tell people NOT to Clap For Carers on London’s Westminster Bridge tonight – even though Commissioner Cressida Dick joined in herself two weeks ago

  • Deputy Assistant Commissioner said people would be expected to return home
  • Matt Twist said those out have to adhere to Government’s emergency legislation
  • Cressida Dick drew criticism for failing to prevent the crowding on the bridge

Londoners gathering at landmarks such as Westminster Bridge for the country’s weekly ‘clap for carers’ event will be told to return home, the Metropolitan Police have said.

It comes two weeks after the force’s commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was filmed leading dozens of officers in the weekly applause for key workers on a crowded Westminster Bridge. 

The increasingly large gatherings on the bridge have provoked outrage on social media in recent weeks. 

Two weeks ago Met Police chief Cressida Dick was slammed on social media after she joined huge crowds at the central London landmark to take part in the weekly event. 

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick took part in Clap For Carers by showing her support on Westminster Bridge in London two weeks ago

Cressida Dick on Westminster Bridge for the clap for the NHS. She attracted criticism for the move and not dispersing large crowds

Today Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said Met officers and staff will continue to join the tribute at 8pm on Thursdays.

But he warned that people who are out without a reasonable excuse outlined in the Government’s lockdown rules will be asked to return home.

‘We have repeatedly reminded colleagues that they must maintain an appropriate social distance at all times where operationally possible. But to do this they also need the support and assistance of the public,’ he said.

‘As this event has gained prominence it is understandable that major landmarks, including Westminster Bridge in central London, have become focal points for those who wish to applaud.

‘However, it is not acceptable for people to disregard the safety of themselves and others. Officers will be present tonight to engage, explain and encourage them to observe social distancing rules.

‘Members of the public who are not away from their homes for one of the reasons outlined in the Government’s emergency legislation should expect to be asked to return home.

‘In keeping with our approach to these rules throughout the lockdown, officers will only enforce this legislation as a last resort.’     

Increasingly large numbers of people have travelled to Westminster Bridge for the weekly Clap For Carers

On Thursday Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the only people who can be out tonight are those keeping in line with the Government’s emergency legislation

Last week hundreds of people including police and emergency workers were once again blasted after ignoring social distancing rules to applaud NHS workers on Westminster Bridge.

Shocking photographs described as ‘absolutely shambolic’ showed members of the public clearly defying guidelines to stay 6ft apart as they took part in the Clap for Carers salute to frontline staff.

Police had planned the event to showcase support for key workers, turning their cars’ blue lights on, but the applause resulted in overcrowding. 

Met Police chief Cressida Dick came in for criticism on social media after she joined crowds on Westminster Bridge to clap, two weeks ago.

Members of the public gather on Westminster Bridge on April 23. Some were seen flouting the 6ft rule

Dame Cressida, 59, drew harsh criticism for failing to prevent the crowding, in what was supposed to be a press opportunity for the force. 

She was branded the ‘worst commissioner of all time’ after the failed photo opportunity became a public embarrassment.

Last Thursday those in the crowd could be seen smiling and taking photos as hospital staff at nearby St Thomas’ Hospital joined people outside.

Ambulances were parked with their sirens on and emergency workers chatted with members of the public.

The scenes took place while the rest of the country stood out on their doorsteps to clap to thank brave NHS staff battling the coronavirus pandemic for the fifth consecutive week.

After footage and images from the event circulated on social media, many hit out over the clear breach in lockdown rules.

MP for Telford Lucy Allan wrote: ‘How did this happen again? You can’t comfort your loved one on their death bed, but it’s fine to go Westminster Bridge and party on a Thursday.’

Another wrote: ‘More stupidity on Westminster Bridge. Please explain Matt Hancock’

Bryn Jones said: ‘Can you explain why this was allowed to happen this evening on #WestminsterBridge? Were no lessons learnt from last week’s fiasco @metpoliceuk @MayorofLondon?

‘No wonder we are having hundreds of deaths day after day from #coronavirus #ClapForCarers should only be a doorstep thing.’ 

Junior doctor Damir Rafi captured footage of Westminster Bridge that was watched more than 10 million times and caused outrage on social media.

Dr Rafi, who works at St Thomas’ hospital, said: ‘I’m a doctor working at the hospital that’s right there. And yes, I was also somewhat perplexed by the lack of social distancing.’

In the video, crowds were within touching distance of each other, seemingly oblivious to the government’s rules on social distancing.

Police watched on and joined in with the applause instead of breaking up the crowd, which is in clear violation of lockdown policy.

Social media users blasted ‘idiots’ for smashing social distancing rules by cramming onto London’s Westminster Bridge to clap for NHS workers

People carrying babies and looking after young children were also there, as one man snaked through the crowd with a bike.

The week before, one critic said on social media: ‘Beyond a joke. But that’s Cressida Dick for you. Worst commissioner of all time.’

Another added: ‘Met Police Chief Cressida Dick was on Westminster Bridge last night and did nothing!’

Daniel Aherne wrote: ‘Hope this brings a long overdue end to Cressida Dick’s career.’

Downing Street responded by urging people to follow social distancing guidance.

Number 10 said: ‘We would ask that everyone takes responsibility and adheres to social distancing rules so that we can safely show our appreciation for those who are working so hard to fight coronavirus.

‘We would ask that in showing their appreciation for those who are working so hard as carers, they do so in a way which adheres to the social distancing rules.’ 

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