Police in Wales arrested a man who had been on a walk with his family 22 miles from their home, after he refused to give his personal details and told officers to stop “harassing” his wife.
Radek Kotlarek, 39, from Rhos-on-Sea was taken into custody after officers from the North Wales Police force found him, his wife Marta and teenage son walking in Talacre beach on Sunday for a “mental break”.
Footage filmed by Mrs Kotlarek showed her telling the police the walk was “essential” for her “mental wellbeing” after the death of a family member in Poland, and Mr Kotlarek saying they were harassing the family.
The officers then placed Mr Kotlarek under arrest for refusing to give them his name and personal details, handcuffed him, and took him to North Wales Police’s custody suite at St Asaph for questioning.
Mr Kotlarek claimed later he was “treated like a criminal” at the police station and that officers threatened to strip-search him if he refused to give his name.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I felt like it was abuse of power, so I did not give my name.
“I was telling them this journey was for our well-being. I was trying to reason with them. I told the officers, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’.
“My family was struggling with many issues that are sources in the constant lockdowns and homeschooling.
On top of that came personal family problems which we faced in the last months. They include the very serious illness of my wife’s brother and death of close relatives. We were not even able to say goodbye or go and attend the funeral in Poland,” he added.
“Is it not our most basic human right to decide for ourselves what is good and essential for our wellbeing?”
Mr Kotlarek was released after about three hours and said he was considering bringing a formal complaint against the force.
The video of Mr Kotlarek’s arrest was shared by Welsh Assembly member Neil McEvoy, who criticised police for the arrest.
Mr McEvoy told the MailOnline the police “acted unlawfully and breached the human rights of an everyday couple out with their son”, adding that Mr Kotlarek did not resist arrest but was handcuffed anyway.
“That was an assault. He was then unlawfully imprisoned, because refusing to give one’s details under coronavirus legislation is not an offence,” he said.
The video also drew backlash from the public, some of whom called the police’s actions “appalling” and “disgraceful”.
Nigel Harrison, chief superintendent of the force, responded to the comments and said: “The person was spoken to at Talacre beach as officers reasonably suspected he had committed an offence, which in this case was a breach in coronavirus regulations.
“The man, who is from the seaside town of Rhos-on-Sea some 22 miles away, was arrested because his details could not be ascertained at the time in order to be reported for the suspected breach.
“The officers behaved in a calm and reasonable way as I would have expected,” he added.
“As is always the case, if the individual wishes to query or complain about the way they were treated then of course we will review the full circumstances.”