Police officers querying people’s lockdown movements are being told “If it’s OK for (Dominic) Cummings, it’s OK for us”, a Labour police and crime commissioner has claimed.
It comes amid the row over the Prime Minister’s chief adviser driving from London to Durham to isolate with his family, and subsequently taking a trip to Barnard Castle to see if he was fit enough to drive before returning to the capital.
Boris Johnson has stood by his embattled aide, despite the furore.
But West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said he has received internal “intelligence reports” that frontline officers are now getting “push-back” from people, referring to Mr Cummings’ actions.
Mr Jamieson believes that if Mr Cummings resigned it would “help the police enforce the rules and enforce the law”, and claimed his actions had “undermined the Government”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme on Wednesday, Mr Jamieson was asked if the adviser’s actions had had any impact on operational policing of the lockdown measures.
He replied: “Well, until this morning I would have hoped it wouldn’t.
“But now I’ve received intelligence reports from senior officers on my force who are now saying officers on the ground are reporting things like ‘If it’s OK for Cummings, it’s OK for us’, and other people saying ‘It looks like there’s one rule for us and another rule for the people in Number 10 Downing Street’.
“Now, if the rules are flexible and the people who seem to have interpreted them are at the heart of Government, it is almost impossible then for police officers to carry out their job effectively.
“If certain people are seen to be able to, if you like, wheedle their way out of the rules and the laws, then that undermines the whole of the public’s confidence in those laws.”
I think the tooth needs to be drawn, he needs to goDavid Jamieson
Asked to give specific examples of Mr Cummings had been referred to by the public, Mr Jamieson said: “Where there’s been gatherings of people or where they’ve suspected people are travelling for the wrong reasons”, but did not give further details.
He added: “What the police are now saying to me is they’re getting quite a push-back, not just from some of the younger people – who were saying previously ‘Why can’t I play football? Why can’t I go out in the streets?’ – they’re getting the push-back from other generations of people as well.”
West Midlands Police is England’s largest force after the Met, policing an area of three million people.
Asked if he was just scoring political points, Mr Jamieson said: “I was elected as a Labour member here, but I’m saying the same thing as bishops are saying, that senior officers round the country, who have no political affiliation at all, we’re all saying the same thing.
“I have to say a number of senior people in the Conservative Party have said to me ‘All this is very wrong’, but at the moment they feel restrained from saying so (publicly).”
Asked if Mr Cummings should go, the commissioner said: “I think the tooth needs to be drawn, he needs to go.
“That will then put us back on a level.
“It’ll give the Prime Minister back his authority, it’ll help the police enforce the rules and enforce the law.”