Covid: Police 'regret' over halting church Good Friday service

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image copyrightPolish Catholic Mission Balham
image captionOfficers addressed the congregation on Good Friday, asking them to leave the building

Police have said they "deeply" regret the hurt caused when a Good Friday service was shut down for breaching Covid-19 restrictions.

Met Police officers found some worshippers without masks and not socially distancing at Christ the King on Balham High Road, London.

Video of officers addressing the congregation inside the church circulated online.

Det Supt Andy Wadey also addressed the congregation after Mass on Sunday.

He said Covid-19 restrictions had been challenging for faith communities, but the restrictions were designed "to protect and support communities in staying safe during the pandemic".

"We know, however, that many people were very upset by what happened on Good Friday and we deeply regret that," he said.

Det Supt Wadey also said that there had been "significant reflection and learning" by both officers and senior leaders at New Scotland Yard.

'Such an important day'

At the time of the incident, a representative of Polish Catholic Mission Balham, which runs the church, said it believed police had "brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good reason".

They added the congregation had "been wronged on such an important day for every believer" and that worship had "been profaned".

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, Most Rev John Wilson, accompanied Supt Wadey to the service on Sunday and said the concerns of the church had "been heard directly by the Metropolitan Police Service".

"We are all deeply saddened by the events that took place in this church on Good Friday afternoon," he added.

Communal worship in churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, temples and meeting rooms is allowed under current rules.

The number allowed at any service is determined by a risk assessment on the building where it is held.

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