A new ban on face coverings in Romford town centre is legally unenforceable, a business leader involved in its creation has admitted.

Julie Frost, director of Romford Business Improvement District (BID), told the Recorder that they “cannot enforce” the rule “under the law”.

She said the new rule will “primarily” apply to shopping centres on private property only. 

This is despite the BID announcing on April 18 that all “individuals visiting Romford town centre will no longer be able to wear ski masks, hoodies or helmets that cover their face”.

The rule was introduced following discussions between the BID, Havering Council, police and the town's shopping centres in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour.

But Ms Frost said: “We are not stopping people from wearing hoodies… we are merely encouraging people that, if they have nothing to hide, then why cover their face?”

Romford BID, an organisation which aims to represent the needs of the town's businesses, has said security guards will call the police if there is “any aggression” shown from individuals that are asked to leave shopping centres.

READ MORE: 'We need to show strength' - Romford councillor and shop owner backs hoodie ban

With regards to ensuring the wider community is aware of the new face covering guidelines, Ms Frost said: “We have issued press releases to all forms of media, the information is across all social media platforms… plus we have issued [the information] to all the schools in the borough so that young people can be informed.”

The introduction of the new rule has been welcomed by some.

Romford Recorder: Julie Frost (centre left) with police, council and shopping centre representatives launching the new ruleJulie Frost (centre left) with police, council and shopping centre representatives launching the new rule (Image: Sandra Rowse)

Cllr Nisha Patel, who owns a newsagents in Collier Row, believed it would make business owners feel safer.

She previously told the Recorder she was concerned about “youths” coming into the town centre with their faces covered.

“Youths are coming from outside the borough as well because they see we are a soft touch and that there isn’t enough policing," Cllr Patel said.

“We need to show some sort of strength that we will not put up with this.”

Sanjay Yagnik, shop manager of South Street clothing store Utter Nutter, added: "I’m definitely in favour of it.

"I think when a group of kids hang around in face masks it’s definitely intimidating. It doesn’t look good for the community."