Police defend arrest of man who travelled 22 miles with family to have ice cream at beach

Ross McGuinness
·4 min read
Radek Kotlarek's arrest at Talacre beach in Wales on Sunday was caught on video. (Reach)
Radek Kotlarek's arrest at Talacre beach in Wales on Sunday was caught on video. (Reach)

Police have defended the arrest of a man in front of his wife and teenage son after making a 22-mile trip to a beach in north Wales.

Radek Kotlarek, 39, an IT consultant from Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy, was arrested by two female police officers at Talacre beach on Sunday.

Police said he was arrested for refusing to give his personal details.

Mr Kotlarek said he wasn’t charged with any offence and claimed he was strip searched after being taken to a police station.

Radek Kotlarek was arrested on Sunday at a beach in Wales. (Reach)
Radek Kotlarek was arrested on Sunday at a beach in Wales. (Reach)

North Wales Police have insisted its "officers behaved in a calm and reasonable way".

A video clip of the arrest was posted on Twitter and Facebook by Welsh parliament member and leader of the Propel party, Neil McEvoy.

Mr Kotlarek and his wife said they went for an ice cream and a walk at the beach for their mental wellbeing after the deaths of family members in Poland they were unable to visit.

Watch: What it's like living in a village with 142% rise in coronavirus cases

The video footage shows the police officers arresting Mr Kotlarek, with one telling him as he is handcuffed: “You’re under arrest for refusing to provide details.’

Shortly after, the other officer says: “You’re under arrest for breaching coronavirus legislation.”

Mr Kotlarek said he believed he was within his rights to refuse to identify himself.

He said he was taken to St Asaph police station and held in custody for three hours and strip searched.

“My family was struggling with many issues that are sourced in the constant lockdowns and home schooling,” said Mr Kotlarek.

“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.

"On Sunday, me, my wife and our older teenage son decided to go for a walk to one of our favourite spots in Wales, to Talacre beach. We needed this.

“The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a nice and peaceful Sunday afternoon walk. On our way back we crowned the trip with some ice cream and were ready to head off home.”

He said they were approached by police officers who asked why they were there and explained COVID-19 regulations.

After refusing to give his name, he was handcuffed and led to a police car. He claimed he was strip searched at the police station. He was later released and says he was not charged or issued with a fine.

McEvoy, a politician who knows the family, said: “How on earth can a regular couple be treated in such a way?

“The Kotlareks have been dealing with family tragedy in Poland, yet are unable to travel to be with family. They went to a quiet beach to maintain a sense of sanity. Mr Kotlarek did not resist arrest, yet was cuffed.

"This was a family who were grieving and in crisis. They just wanted a walk and an ice cream to try to cope. They hadn't travelled far. Things have got out of hand now."

Chief Superintendent Nigel Harrison 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.

“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.”

Yahoo News UK asked North Wales Police under which legislation Mr Kotlarek was arrested, whether he was charged with an offence or fined and to address his claim he was strip searched, but they have chosen not to comment further.

In its coronavirus lockdown guidance, the Welsh government says: “Exercise should be undertaken locally – from home or as close as possible to the home.

“In general this must not involve people driving to a location away from home for this purpose.

“No journeys of any significant distance should be taken, for example, just in order to exercise in the countryside or at beauty spots.

“This is the law and not just guidance. Police can fine people who travel beyond their local area to beauty spots.”

Watch: What you can and can't do during lockdown