Met Police advised pubs to ask customers for photo ID to ensure groups live together

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Drinkers in Soho Credit: PA

The Metropolitan Police advised publicans to ask customers for photo ID to ensure groups were formed one household or bubble following London's move into Covid tier 2 restrictions.

Scotland Yard is being urged to withdraw “misleading and unlawful” advice after business licence holders were sent a letter telling them to take steps to ensure groups did not break the rules under the new measures that forbid indoor socialising with people outside of your household or bubble.

This could include asking for photographic identification with names and addresses, it added.

But the Met have defended the letter, dated October 16, saying it was "well intended" despite criticism from an already struggling hospitality industry.

The letter said: “Premises should take steps to satisfy themselves that the group (maximum six people) is only from one household or part of a support bubble.

People seen outside the Coach and Horses pub in Wellington Street.

“This could include requesting photographic identification with names and addresses.

“We ask that you support the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) and the local authority by being proactive in discouraging groups from gathering in the public realm outside of your premises.”

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said that following legal advice it was urging the Met to withdraw its “misleading and unlawful” advice.

He added: “The recent communication from the Met Police on October 16 we feel confuses an already confused situation.

“The conditions for trading are already extremely difficult and our entire sector have taken reasonable measures to ensure guidelines have been met and people are kept safe within their premises.

“Following legal advice we will be requesting that the Met withdraw their misleading and unlawful advice and issue a statement that reflects the correct current legal position.

“This is typical of erroneous advice and enforcement activity up and down the country.”

But the force said its primary aim was to keep Londoners safe and ensure coronavirus restrictions were followed.

A Met spokesman added: “The main purpose of this communication has been to keep licensees informed of updates around Covid legislation, including recently the new measures that have come with the move to ‘Tier 2’ status in London.

“The local advice from one of the Met’s licensing teams about this is just that – advice.

“It was well-intentioned and we hope that it is taken in that way.

“It does not reflect the Met’s policy or any expectation from us upon London’s licensees.

“Our primary aim is to help keep all Londoners safe and ensure, through engagement and explanation, that the relevant Covid legislation is adhered to.”