British Transport Police has been pelted with virtual tomatoes online after an officer was filmed trying to heavy-handedly enforce the mask-wearing order on a stubborn passenger, ending up in an intense one-on-one scuffle.
The footage has caught the eye of multiple viewers and shows a uniformed Liverpool transport police officer in the middle of a heated argument with a commuter, who’d apparently refused to wear a compulsory mask. “I do not have to wear a mask,” he insists, adding it’s “against the law to challenge me.”
Meanwhile, a man filming is heard adding, “underlying health conditions, you don’t have to wear a mask.” Face coverings are mandatory to wear on public transport in the UK, unless a passenger reports having a medical condition that prevents them from doing so.
“I’m not going to ask you anymore. Get off or we’re taking you off,” the officer tells the passenger seconds before the scuffle breaks out. “Get off me! Who the f**k do you think you’re grabbing?” the rider shouts as the scuffle continues and he tries to avoid being restrained.
The confrontation turned more violent after the officer tried to apply handcuffs and pepper-sprayed the man. During the struggle, the man’s shirt comes off.
The video garnered scores of views and shares by Friday afternoon, with tweets of support for the man who “stands tall for his freedom” and calls to “discipline the officer and overturn this madness.”
Others, however, said the man should have presented an exemption certificate to prove he had underlying health conditions.
British Transport Police (BTP) which is responsible for ensuring the safety of passengers and infrastructure, delved into the debate later in the day, confirming that they were aware of the viral footage. The agency said the officer allegedly responded to a report of a person “spitting at two passengers,” adding he was charged with “a public order offence and assaulting an emergency worker.
The explanation didn’t sit particularly well with online commenters, who bombarded the BTP page with questions and accusations. “If the officer was there because he was spitting at people why is the conversation about masks?” one asked. Further responses pointed out the officer in the video made no mention of breaching of public order.