A video of a woman apparently being arrested for sitting on a bench was ‘staged-managed’ by anti-lockdown protesters, Dorset Police said.
Footage, which has been shared widely online, shows three police officers surrounding a woman in Bournemouth for allegedly leaving her house more than once in a day.
The clip then shows a woman being handcuffed and led away by officers as she repeatedly tells them: ‘I was sitting on a bench’.
But police believe the clip was ‘planned, stage-managed and recorded’ by members of an anti-lockdown protest group who were present in the town on Saturday.
The force said three people were arrested following the demonstrations, after refusing to give their details to officers who attempted to issue them with fines for breaching coronavirus regulations.
Dorset Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Callaghan said: ‘We believe this video was planned, stage-managed and recorded by members of the protest group who turned up in multiple areas, several of whom refused to engage and provide their details.
Footage emerged showing three police officers surrounding a woman for allegedly leaving her house more than once in a day (left). Another four officers appear to arrest a different woman for what she claims was ‘sitting on a bench’ on the seafront in Bournemouth (right)
‘If people refuse to give their details in such circumstances then it leaves officers with little option but to arrest until the details are established.
‘Our officers would only arrest as a last resort.’
Two of those detained were later ‘de-arrested’ after supplying officers with their details and were subsequently fined, police said.
A third person was also released and fined after their details were verified in custody.
The force said at least seven fixed penalty notices were issued to those who breached lockdown rules on the day.
But police believe the clip (pictured) was ‘planned, stage-managed and recorded’ by members of an anti-lockdown protest group who were present in the town on Saturday
Police made repeated attempts to contact the protest organisers to request that it did not go ahead, but were unsuccessful, Mr Callaghan said.
‘It was clear that the group were deliberately organising their activities, walking around in twos and then trying to come together in a ‘flash mob’ style approach, as they have done previously,’ he said in a statement.
‘This activity went on for a couple of hours.’
Some of the protesters were found to have remained in the area for a ‘prolonged period of time’, despite being warned by police.
Mr Callaghan said some of those taking part had also travelled ‘considerably’ from outside the Dorset area.
The woman – wearing glasses and a long red coat – says: ‘I was sitting on a bench. I was sitting on a bench’ as she is cuffed by officers
In the clip, one woman was surrounded by three police who claimed she had left her house more than once.
The woman – who is joined by an elderly man – bursts into tears as the police interrogate her over the alleged lockdown violation.
One officer tells the first woman: ‘At the moment you’re allowed out for exercise once a day.
‘You’ve been filmed today in the town centre and around here and walking up and down.’
Four officers lead her away in handcuffs (pictured) while other pedestrians ask why they feel it is necessary
Another officer shows her the rules she was said to have broken on a mobile phone but she interrupts when she hears the words ‘anti-social manner’.
She asks: ‘Am I acting in an anti-social manner.’ The man with her asks: ‘What’s anti-social.’
The officer, who was wearing a face covering, continues but the woman starts crying and wipes her eyes.
She says: ‘How have I acted anti-socially, I was sat on a bench having a cup of coffee, that is not anti-social.’
The policewoman says ‘you’re acting anti-social now’, to which the woman replies: ‘Well yes, you’re provoking me.’
They continue to argue and the woman refuses to give the officer her details when asked.
Meanwhile the cameraman walks over to another part of the promenade where a woman is being put into handcuffs.
The filmer asks: ‘What’s going on, why are you putting her hands behind her back? What are you doing?’
The woman – wearing glasses and a long red coat – says: ‘I was sitting on a bench. I was sitting on a bench.’
Four officers lead her away in handcuffs while other pedestrians ask why they feel it is necessary.
The footage comes to an end as the second woman is led to a police van while the first continues to bicker with the police.
Dorset Police has been approached for comment.