Officers with the Metropolitan Police shut down a Good Friday service in Balham yesterday (Friday, April 2) after saying the congregation had breached coronavirus safety rules.

Footage purportedly showing the moment police shut down the service circulated on social media on Friday and Saturday, prompting a response from Met Police in Wandsworth.

Reportedly the church in question was the Christ the King Polish Roman Catholic Church in Balham, which lies on Balham High Road where police said their intervention took place.

In their statement posted Saturday, a spokesperson for the Met confirmed they had shut down the gathering but had issued no penalty notices in the process.

"At around 17.00hrs on Friday, April 2, officers were called to a report of crowds of people queuing outside a church in Balham High Road.

"Officers attended and found a large number of people inside the church. Some people were not wearing masks and those present were clearly not socially distanced.

"We are particularly concerned about the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus as a result of large indoor gatherings at which people are not socially distanced and some are not wearing masks.

"As such, officers made the decision that it was not safe for that particular service to continue.

"Understanding the sensitivity of the situation, officers engaged with the priest outside the church and were invited to address the congregation. No fixed penalty notices were issued."

They added that officers appreciated it would be a one of a series of religious gatherings over the Easter period and as such would be "engaging with with church authorities today" and "in the coming days".

Meanwhile a statement posted to the Christ the King church website seemed to refute the premise of the police shutting the service down, suggesting they had followed government guidelines.

As the Wandsworth Times reported previously, Covid-19 infections are rising in some parts of the UK, three weeks after the most stringent lockdown regulations such as the closure of schools were lifted.

Yesterday, the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimated England's R number to be between 0.8 and 1 - up from between 0.7 and 0.9 across the whole of the UK last week.