South Yorkshire Police apologises over 'wrong kind of jeans for exercise' message
South Yorkshire Police has apologised following an online backlash over a message which appeared to criticise someone for being out in jeans during the coronavirus lockdown.
A sergeant in Doncaster posted the controversial update about COVID-19 patrols on Thursday night via SYP Alerts, which is used to inform people about police activity in their neighbourhood.
The message, which has since been taken down, said: “Tonight has seen us checking people’s reasons for being on the streets. Between essential saunter in jeans as exercise, an essential trip to the shops for egg custards and essential trip to the cash machine for £20 to use in the morning, we’ve offered a lot of advice.”
It went on to state that anyone out who had already received a warning would be fined, before adding that officers were ‘doing their best’ to keep people safe.
The Network for Police Monitoring, which describes itself as a coalition monitoring and resisting excessive, intimidating or violent policing, seized upon the update as an example of officers abusing or misinterpreting the new legislation.
“The wrong kind of jeans for exercise. Honestly, it's becoming embarrassing now #PolicingTheCoronaState,” it tweeted.
Others agreed, with one person suggesting ‘this has got to be satire’ and another dubbing the officers responsible the ‘fashion police’.
Responding to the concerns, Chief Superintendent Shaun Morley said: “A message has been issued on SYP Alerts which is not in keeping with our approach.
“We have been very clear in our expectations that officers should engage and encourage residents on the new restrictions. Further training will be provided to the officer to ensure they are clear on our position. We apologise for any confusion caused by this alert.”
Last month, the force apologised after one of its officers was filmed wrongly telling a father-of-two that he couldn’t use his own front garden in Rotherham during the coronavirus lockdown.
South Yorkshire Police revealed its officers issued 258 fines under the emergency coronavirus legislation to people allegedly caught flouting the restrictions between March 27 and April 27, during which period more than 9,000 fines were handed out across England and Wales.