London mayor Sadiq Khan is the latest to criticise Met Police chief Cressida Dick after she joined hundreds of people ignoring social distancing rules to clap for the NHS.
The busy crowd gathered on Westminster Bridge at 8pm on Thursday under the noses of police officers, including the leader of the force.
Critics on Twitter branded Ms Dick the ‘worst commissioner of all time’ after the failed photo opportunity became a public embarrassment.
Police had planned the event to showcase support for key workers, turning their cars’ blue lights on, but the applause resulted in overcrowding.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, pictured, said he was ‘concerned that the social distancing rules don’t seem to have been observed’ by hundreds on Westminster Bridge this week
Mr Khan has now said he believes questions will be asked within the capital’s emergency services over how such flouting of government guidance was allowed to happen.
He told James O’Brien on LBC Radio: ‘I am equally concerned that the social distancing rules don’t seem to have been observed.
‘I’ve got no confirmation of this, but I suspect the Met Police Service and the London Ambulance Service whose people were there will be asking the sort of questions that you, not unreasonably, are asking.
‘I think both the MPS and the LAS will be asking questions about social distancing guidelines not being observed.’
Junior doctor Damir Rafi captured the ‘sickening’ moment in a Twitter video that has been watched more than 10 million times and caused outrage on social media.
Dr Rafi, who works at St Thomas’ hospital, said: ‘I’m a doctor working at the hospital that’s right there. And yes, I was also somewhat perplexed by the lack of social distancing.’
London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, 59, (pictured on Westminster Bridge yesterday) was one of the many police officers who joined in with the crowds despite the lack of social distancing
Hundreds of people ignore social distancing rules last night while clapping for the NHS on Westminster Bridge at 8pm
Police, including the Metropolitan Police chief, watch on and join in with the applause rather than breaking up the crowds
In the video, crowds are within touching distance of each other, seemingly oblivious to the government’s rules on social distancing.
Police watch on and join in with the applause instead of breaking up the crowd, which is in clear violation of lockdown policy.
People carrying babies and looking after young children look around while others film the event for their social media.
One man snakes through the crowd with a bike as the sun sets behind the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, currently under refurbishment.
Ms Dick rallies the troops on Westminster Bridge last night before the applause that was described as ‘really infuriating’ by a nurse
The video caused outrage among members of the public, with a nurse saying it made her feel ‘sick’.
She wrote: ‘This is just really infuriating!!!! I’m a Nurse & this scene made me sick!!!
‘It’s more appreciated if social distancing was practise here than the clapping itself! Do we really CARE???
‘Expect for more weeks of torture, more casualties because of this!!!’
Dr Rafi told metro.co.uk: ‘Though people may have wanted to go outside to show their support for healthcare workers, applauding them while being in a crowd is likely to have done more harm than good.’
Critics slammed Commissioner Dick on Twitter, labelling her the ‘worst commissioner of all time’ and suggesting the guffaw could be career-ending
London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, 59, drew harsh criticism for failing to prevent the crowding, in what was supposed to be a press opportunity for the force.
One critic said: ‘Beyond a joke. But that’s Cressida Dick for you. Worst commissioner of all time.’
Another added: ‘Met Police Chief Cressida Dick was on Westminster Bridge last night and did nothing!’
Daniel Aherne wrote: ‘Hope this brings a long overdue end to Cressida Dick’s career.’
Celebrities including Piers Morgan, cricketer Ben Stokes and comedian Omid Djalili also slammed the crowds on Twitter.
Piers wrote: ‘Do they not understand the irony of clapping the NHS yet deliberately increasing the risk of putting more pressure on the NHS?’
Omid added: ‘Goodness me. The lack of social distancing wile people clap for carers is like thanking the people who have to wipe your backside by monumentally cr***ing yourself.’
Downing Street responded by urging people to follow social distancing guidance.
Number 10 said: ‘We would ask that everyone takes responsibility and adheres to social distancing rules so that we can safely show our appreciation for those who are working so hard to fight coronavirus.
‘We would ask that in showing their appreciation for those who are working so hard as carers, they do so in a way which adheres to the social distancing rules.’
People are ‘shocked’ by the crowd ignoring social distancing and creating more work for the NHS
People around the country have been applauding NHS staff and other key workers every Thursday night since the nationwide lockdown was put in place.
London Metropolitan Police said: ‘The Commissioner, along with many other emergency services workers, participated in clapping for key workers last night.
‘A large number of members of the public also gathered to express their gratitude.
‘While many people adhered to social distancing guidance, it appears that some did not.
‘We regularly remind our officers of the importance of social distancing where practical, and will continue do so.’
A guidance document issued to police forces in England last week said not sticking to social distancing advice is not against the law.
It reads: ‘Government guidance, like going outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle OR staying two metres away from people you don’t live with, is not legally enforceable, but it is best practice and can be used to help to encourage people to change their behaviour.’
The news comes after police officers in England were advised that people who sit on park benches for too long are likely to be breaking coronavirus lockdown rules.
A document sent to forces cites advice from the Crown Prosecution Service on what might constitute a reasonable excuse to leave home under sweeping laws which give officers the power to enforce restrictions on movement and issue fines.
It also indicated people should not be working from nearby parks rather than their home but suggested those who needed a ‘cooling-off’ period after rows at home can move between households if they leave for several days.
The document said stopping to rest or have a picnic lunch while on a long walk would be considered a reasonable excuse.
Some 3,203 fines were handed out by police in England between March 27 and April 13 to those considered to be flouting the rules.