Short, back and fines: UK police officers face punishment for COVID haircut breach

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LONDON (Reuters) - A group of 31 London police officers face being fined 200 pounds ($275) each after they broke strict COVID-19 lockdown rules to have their haircut while on duty, their force said on Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Police said it launched an investigation after receiving an allegation that a number of officers had their hair cut by a professional barber at the Bethnal Green station in east London.

Under lockdown rules brought in on Jan. 5, hairdressers and barbers are among businesses that have been closed down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The investigation had concluded the 31 officers who had their hair cut last week should be fined 200 pounds and the two who organised it will be investigated for misconduct.

"It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that my officers have fallen short of the expectation to uphold Covid-19 regulations," said Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett.

"Although officers donated money to charity as part of the haircut, this does not excuse them from what was a very poor decision."

Despite lockdowns being brought in across the United Kingdom there has been concern that many people are not abiding by the rules, meaning the virus keeps spreading.

Last week, British interior minister Priti Patel said those who broke lockdown restrictions faced punishment by police, and announced a new 800-pound fine for those who attended house parties.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Costas Pitas)