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Police break up Good Friday church service in Balham, south London

Christ the King church said the Met ‘brutally exceeded their powers’ (Picture: Andrzej Fryzicki/YouTube)

A Good Friday church service was shut down by police, who threatened worshippers with £200 fines for allegedly breaching Covid rules.

Officers were called to Christ the King church in Balham, south London on Friday evening to reports of people queuing outside.

A policeman who was filmed addressing the congregation from the podium said the gathering was ‘unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations’.

He added: ‘You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law.

‘At this moment in time you need to go home. Failure to comply with this direction to leave and go to your home address, ultimately could lead you to be fined £200 or, if you fail to give your details, to you being arrested.

‘It’s Good Friday and I appreciate you would like to worship, but it is unlawful.

In a statement, the Polish Catholic church said officers ‘brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good reason’ because ‘all government requirements were met’.

Police break up Good Friday church service in London pics: Andrzej Fryzicki/YouTube

A police officer told worshippers ‘the gathering was ‘unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations’ (Picture: Andrzej Fryzicki/YouTube)

From March 8, places of worship in England were allowed to open for communal worship, including prayers, devotions or meditations led by a minister of religion or lay person.

The Government website says: ‘Limits for communal worship should be decided on the basis of the capacity of the place of worship following an assessment of risk.’

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Officers attended and found a large number of people inside the church.

‘Some people were not wearing masks and those present were clearly not socially distanced.

‘We are particularly concerned about the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus as a result of large indoor gatherings at which people are not socially distanced and some are not wearing masks.

Police break up Good Friday church service in London

The Polish Catholic church says ‘all government requirements were met’ (Picture: Google Maps)

‘As such, officers made the decision that it was not safe for that particular service to continue.

‘Understanding the sensitivity of the situation, officers engaged with the priest outside the church and were invited inside to address the congregation.’

The Met spokesman said this was one of a series of events taking place at the church over the Easter period.

He added: ‘We are engaging with church authorities today and will continue to do so in the coming days.’

On its website, the church said all scheduled services over Easter would take place in the order indicated.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk. 

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