Complaint made to council after Covid marshals photographed children playing in park

The Local Government Ombudsman has decided not to investigate allegations that Barnsley Council’s Covid marshals “photographed children playing in a park without the consent of their parents”.

The complaint was made by an unknown man, named Mr X in the documents, to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Mr X claimed that Covid-19 marshals employed by the council to enforce social distancing rules, photographed children playing in a park without the consent of their parents.

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The photos were of his own child and two other children, who Mr X said were “vulnerable”, and alleged that the marshal’s actions “placed them in danger”.

Allegations were made that Covid marshals “photographed children playing in a park without the consent of their parents”

Mr X says he demanded the marshals stop taking photographs, and alleges that the the council “tried to threaten and coerce him to withdraw his complaint” and he was threatened with a fine.

In response to the complaint, the Ombudsman states that BMBC found “there was no attempt to persuade Mr X to withdraw his complaint”, and “marshals had taken photographs, but there is no law to prevent this”.

The Ombudsman’s findings add: “The marshals gave their first names, displayed their ID cards, and were wearing clothes which identified them as COVID marshals.

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“[Barnsley Council] had taken accounts from the marshals who felt Mr X’s behaviour was intimidating. This led to the marshals radioing for help.”

“Mr X had refused to provide further information. This included a lawful reason for being in the park. The instructions at the time were not to leave home or be outside your home except where there was a reasonable excuse to do so.

“Because of Mr X’s complaint, marshals would be reminded to turn their body worn cameras on during any incident when they felt threatened by a member of the public.”

The ombudsman decided not to investigate the complaint, as there is “not enough evidence the matter complained about caused him [Mr X] significant personal injustice,” and it was “unlikely” they could add anything to the council’s response.