Furious members of the public have taken to Twitter to express their outrage after discovering a police community support officer grabbed a delivery driver while wearing no personal protective equipment.
The Deliveroo worker, Ethan Bradley, who had been delivering food and medicine to vulnerable people in York, was confronted by the PCSO and threatened with arrest after being accused of breaching traffic regulations. He was also slammed with a £50 fine that accounted for nearly a full day’s wages.
One angry user tweeted: “What a disgrace, someone who is helping out the city in these awful times, they should be on a local community beat to watch people gathering for a natter, sunbathing and watching cars of people going out.”
Another said: “If the PSD [Professional Standards Department] fob you off or you get the “We’ll speak to them” line, you might want to consider civil action against the officer. Not something I would normally suggest, but the unnecessary hands on approach without PPE could have been fatal.”
IWGB Couriers York also voiced their indignation at the incident, saying: “Hi @netpol, do you think PCSOs should be behaving in this way, with no PPE and no distancing, while couriers are delivering food and medicines to homes during lockdown?”
Mr. Bradley himself tweeted North Yorkshire Police after the confrontation, saying:
“Hi @NYorksPolice, can you explain to me why one of your PCSOs threatened arrest, refused to allow me to socially distance, and grabbed my handlebars with their bare hands? I deliver food, groceries and prescriptions, and this puts me and my customers at needless risk from #covid19.”
Since the incident occurred, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain has written to the council asking for the fine to be cancelled. They have also revealed that several other couriers were fined that day for breaching traffic regulations that they believed to have been lifted during the current lockdown.
In the letter, they said: “Day in and day out, couriers are delivering food and groceries to those people self-isolating and the many thousands in York adhering to the stay at home instruction directive of the UK government. At a time when the strength of the community bonds is relied upon, York’s couriers are volunteering to deliver groceries and hot meals for the NHS workers and prescriptions to those at highest risk from COVID-19.”
North Yorkshire Police have responded, saying that restrictions are still in place regardless of the lockdown, saying: “Although the city centre streets are currently very quiet due to the lockdown, this does not mean that pedestrianised areas can be used by cyclists and other vehicles.”
However, no mention was made at the time about the lack of social distancing and PPE from the police community support officer in question.
The council has also made a statement, saying: “Whilst food delivery couriers may be classed as essential services and key workers during the pandemic, this does not extend to a relaxation of traffic regulations for these services.”