Residents in Watford are advised to expect an increased police presence in the area ahead of a funeral which could attract high numbers of mourners.
More than 100 cops shutdown roads as officers feared hundreds would attend Mary’s funeral, including her 16 children, 81 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren..
Under the coronavirus laws, a maximum of 30 people are permitted to attend a funeral service.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has been liaising with family members, funeral directors, church, local authority and other agencies ahead of the funeral, which is being conducted in north Watford on Tuesday 23 February.
“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.”
Supt Caveney said local residents could expect to see an increased police presence from Monday 22 February. “We anticipate some disruption in the local area, including possible traffic congestion. We recognise the likely impact on local residents and businesses and will work to minimise this wherever possible,” he said.
“We will not tolerate large gatherings in excess of the regulations and we are putting a proportionate policing response in place. All agencies are working to prevent breaches from occurring by engaging ahead of time with family members. The funeral directors will be working to keep the number of mourners inside the church to within the 30-person limit.
“In policing the pandemic, Hertfordshire Constabulary is following the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) guidelines in applying the coronavirus regulations in our response to any breaches. Our officers are well-briefed on what this entails and are moving through the four Es of engagement, explaining, encouraging and finally to enforcing the coronavirus regulations if necessary. It is always our intention to seek prevention first and enforcement last.”
He added: “Our colleagues in Bedfordshire Police have liaised with the cemetery, which is also looking to keep numbers limited for the burial.”
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “Unfortunately, despite the threat of COVID-19, this funeral is likely to bring many mourners to the area. The police are doing everything they can to ensure that there is minimal impact on Watford residents and we are supporting them in this. 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. 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.”