UK Police Issue Chilling Threat: If You Think No One Will Find You Picnicking, Think Again


If you want to picnic in the United Kingdom, you can social distance from everyone else all you want. You’re not going to be able to socially distance yourself from Big Brother.

In a spectacularly tone-deaf tweet that came across like something out of some kind of post-apocalyptic comic book universe, British police let Britons know that even if they’re picnicking at a distance from everyone, law enforcement will still make an arrest — because apparently there’s nothing else going on right now or anything.

The Central Community Team Twitter account, the official account of police in the central part of the county of Bedfordshire, England, doesn’t want anyone anywhere in the great outdoors. This isn’t unusual for police, per se, but the team’s way of getting the word out was uniquely offensive.

“If you think that by going for a picnic in a rural location no one will find you, don’t be surprised if an officer appears from the shadows! We are covering the whole county,” the Saturday tweet read.

And then there was the picture:

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I don’t know what look they were going for, but I’m guessing that wasn’t it. If it was, well, that’s even worse.

Now, this didn’t quite happen in a vacuum. The British Isles had nice weather last week, which sent many out to sunbathe in spaces where they weren’t socially distancing.

This, however, was mostly happening, as Business Insider reported, in places like London. Central Bedfordshire, however, is some 50 miles from London, so the likelihood that those venturing outdoors couldn’t stay six feet apart, no matter what they were doing, seemed somewhat remote.

And, as some Twitter users pointed out, this could have been thought out better.

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The Central Community Team quickly realized this was becoming a problem and that it appeared that maybe the public service announcement didn’t seem like it was really much about serving the public. A follow-up Twitter post tried to allay some worries.

“We’re aware of some concerns in relation to this tweet. Please rest assured that it was well intentioned. We are carrying out patrols across the county to ensure people are complying with the advice to #StayHomeSaveLives,” the team tweeted out on Sunday.

“We appreciate the weather is lovely but picnics aren’t essential so we’d encourage you to enjoy the sun from home instead. Please remember we’re all just doing what we can to help save lives in a difficult situation.

Yes, that’s all they’re trying to do — help save lives in a difficult situation even though they acknowledged in the first tweet that you didn’t have to be near someone else to be arrested. It was only after they were called out that they suddenly sounded apologetic.

Did this tweet go too far?

And that’s the problem: This isn’t about stopping coronavirus, it’s about normalizing fear of authority. Authorities don’t show shadowy figures stalking other shadowy figures, particularly at a time when tensions and anxiety are running high, if they don’t want to provoke yet another shock of fear to our collective systems.

Their reasoning is that it’s for our own good — but isn’t it always? The coronavirus may be different, yes, but not different enough that this kind of dystopian tweet is suddenly normalized.

The United Kingdom has enough issues right now without worrying about solo picnickers in the country, even as the weather turns nice. This ended up being counterproductive in the most appalling way, a shocking combination of tin-earedness that managed to be scary on a number of different levels.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture