Covid marshal sacked for chasing innocent man down and threatening to arrest him

An "aggressive" stop and search in a small Kent town has led to a coronavirus marshal being given the boot.

Floyd Langridge, from Tonbridge, Kent, explained how street wardens wearing hi-vis jackets threatened to arrest him, despite them having no authority to do so.

The marshals, which have been deployed following government advice, are meant to offer advice on social distancing and remind people to wear masks and be conscious of the rules.

However, Floyd, 44, was left "shaken" by the incident, which took place on December 10.

The part-time cleaner was walking from his home to the shops and was having a cigarette at the same time when he was attacked by two marshals outside Waitrose on Sovereign Way.

The marshals accused Floyd of smoking cannabis before threatening him with arrest and filming him on a body camera.

He said: "There were crowds of people going into the post office and not social distancing, but the two marshals were not interested in that at all.

"I felt intimidated and was frightened. One of the marshals was a big man and very aggressive.

"He grabbed hold of my pockets and tried to arrest me."

Police were called to the disturbance around 5pm, no arrests were made and an officer apologised to Mr Langridge about what had happened.

Tonbridge Council has stated that the street warden has been replaced with "immediate effect" after being hired by external contractors TMS Protection.

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Councillor Mark Hood of Tonbridge has accused the marshal of "behaving like a police officer" and demanded a review of the scheme.

He said: "Covid marshals are not fulfilling their duties. They are meant to be advising on social distancing and making people aware of the guidance, but they seem to be overreaching their remit.

"I am not sure how long we are going to have them, but someone needs to get them to focus on what they should be doing, such as breaking up large groups of people."

Tonbridge Council has stated it will be "strengthening the training" of marshals in future.

A spokesperson wrote: "The presence of Covid marshals on our streets has been generally welcomed by residents who recognise their role in supporting our response to the growing threat posed by the pandemic.

"We, therefore, take any complaints about their conduct very seriously and in this instance agreed with the company which provides our marshals that the staff member concerned should be replaced with immediate effect."

They went on: "We will be working with the contractor to review and strengthen the training our marshals receive to ensure they are absolutely clear on the scope of their role which is to provide a reassuring presence and help keep people safe."

Kent Police confirmed the incident took place. A spokesman said: "We were called to Sovereign Way, Tonbridge at 4.50pm on December 10, 2020, following a report of a disturbance.

"Officers attended and after speaking to the involved parties no offences were identified."

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