Police break up Cardiff church service as congregation gather despite fire-break lockdown

Police officers explained to the congregation that they were breaking the lockdown rules and asked them to leave.

Police broke up a church service in Cardiff on Sunday after people gathered to worship despite the fire-break.

Footage posted online shows South Wales Police officers telling the congregation at the New Hope Community Church in Llanrumney that it is illegal for them to be there.

The lockdown rules mean that places of worship are closed to the public apart from for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies and funerals.

People are also not allowed to meet up with anyone they do not live with, inside or outside, without an exceptional reason.

A 22 minute long video of the incident was shared by the church on their Facebook page.

The video, posted on the church's Facebook page, shows a congregation made up of adults and children wearing masks. The person recording the incident speaks to the camera and describes how "the police just showed up".

They say: "[The police] have knocked on all the windows and the doors, they shined flashlights, so please pray for us right now. I'm just letting you know this is happening. This is in Cardiff. We are not even in a third world country right now, this is in Cardiff."

A police officer can then be seen addressing the people inside the church. He says they have received phone calls from members of the public who are concerned about people at the church breaching coronavirus regulations.

The officer asks everyone to leave and "worship at home or find other ways to worship".

One person, who appears to be the church pastor, addresses the police officers and says: "This is really strange and, I say it respectfully, we love you guys as police officers and we are not law-breaking people.

"But when they say to us that it is illegal to come and worship our God, this is the west, this isn't a nation somewhere far off somewhere else."The police officer interjects and says that gatherings with people who you do not live with are illegal - not worship.

A person, who appears to be the church pastor, talks to the officer and describes the situation as "really strange".

Another person in the video can be heard saying: "You will be asking us not to believe next."

The police officer responds: "As a Christian myself, I am not going to do that. I have a Christian family. My own mother is finding other ways to pray."

After a discussion with the police officers, the congregation agrees to leave the church.

They can be seen gathering their things and praying together before eventually leaving.

After a discussion with officers, the group were given five minutes to pray before they had to leave.

A spokesperson for South Wales Police said: "Police attended New Hope Community Church in Ball Road, Llanrumney, on Sunday afternoon, following a report of a Covid-19 breach.

"Officers followed the policing style which we have adopted throughout the pandemic of explaining the rules and encouraging people to comply.

"Officers moved outside the church to allow five minutes of prayer after which all those present left.

"No fixed penalty notices were issued.

"We know civil restrictions are frustrating and disheartening for people, but by following them, we can all play a part in protecting our communities and the National Health Service. 

"Please take time to understand the latest regulations, all of which can be found on the Welsh Government website."

Church leaders from across Wales have written a letter to the Welsh Government calling for an urgent review of the fire-break measures that ban places of worship from opening.

Their legal team say they will seek a judicial review of the ban early next week if they do not get a response.

The church leaders involved, who said they work in some of the most deprived areas of Wales and are from a range of denominations, acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic but claim they have made places of worship Covid-safe.

The letter has also been signed by church leaders in England, including Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden former chaplain to the Queen.