Police order Luton woman to remove books stall from garden after 'coronavirus risk' complaint

A Luton woman was ordered to remove a book stall from her garden by police after a complaint over a possible coronavirus risk.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 3:00 pm

Amanda Wilson says police told her she could be arrested over the 'book swap' in her garden in Cromer Way.

Mrs Wilson had placed the books at the front of her home as way of supporting the community during the coronavirus lockdown.

However on Sunday, police arrived at the address and ordered her to remove the books after a complaint was received.

The 'books swap' was ordered to be removed by police

Mrs Wilson said: "I had about six books in there donated by friends, and I posted it on Everything Bushmead [Facebook page] and got some lovely comments.

"Someone sent me a message saying I was being selfish and the next thing I knew was on Friday, when two police officers came around.

"To give the policeman some credit, he said he was very embarrassed about ten times! They advised me there had been a complaint."

Undeterred, Mrs Wilson stuck to her project and kept the book stall in place over the weekend.

She said: "On Saturday, a lot of people passed by saying how great it was, and some dropped books off.

"On Sunday at about 3pm, the police showed up again. The officer said, 'you've got to remove the books'.

"He said I was running the risk of Covid-19.

"I was quite annoyed and I made the point that there had been burglaries and a shop break-in, but police were coming after me over some books in the garden!

"It was all about doing something nice for the community, to help people through boredom during the lockdown.

"I thought it was quite heavy-handed."

A neighbour told Luton Today: "Someone complained but I can't see how it was breaking any of the lockdown restrictions, people could choose whether to stop and look as they passed on their daily exercise.

"Have the police not got better things to do? As for the person that complained, how spiteful when someone was showing some initiative to help the community."

Bedfordshire Police has defended its actions as the country enters week six of the coronavirus lockdown.

Chief Inspector Ian Taylor said: “On Friday (24 April) officers from our Luton community policing team were made aware that a book stall had been set up outside a property in Cromer Way, Luton.

“While this is a well-intentioned gesture, the NHS have advised that Covid-19 can stay on surfaces for at least 72 hours, so any shared items can pose a risk of spreading the virus.

“We therefore visited the resident on Friday to engage with her and politely ask that the book stall was taken down, explaining the possible risk of transmission of Covid-19 through this activity.

“On Sunday (26 April) we then received a further complaint in relation to the book stall so our community policing officers attended the property to further explain the risks associated with the stall.

“All reports of possible breaches of Covid-19 guidance will be considered and where possible we will look to engage with, explain, and encourage residents to follow the advice, as was the case on this occasion.

“Anyone who wishes to report a concern is encouraged to do so via our website.”

> What do you think? Email your thoughts to [email protected]