WEST Midlands Police have defended officers who handed a fixed penalty notice to a maskless shopper in Dudley.

Footage of the incident circulated on social media where a woman, believed to be shopping in Farmfoods, claimed she was exempt from wearing a mask.

Two officers tell the woman that she had broken Covid-19 guidelines by not wearing a face covering. She later showed officers an 'exemption card' but was told it was "not valid".

Wearing masks in shops is now mandatory, however exemptions apply for people with specific physical and mental health conditions.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: "We've reviewed video footage showing two of our officers speaking to a woman who wasn't wearing a mask in a shop in Dudley - a borough with one of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the region.

"Both officers were polite and professional throughout the conversation. They did not ask the woman to provide any proof she had a 'reasonable excuse' not to wear a facemask in the shop.

"The shopper voluntarily produced a document. This was a generic document printed off the internet and not personal to her circumstances.

"Officers are walking a difficult line. We would rather we didn't have to police Covid-19 legislation but it is important we do to limit the spread of the virus and save lives.

"Officers have been asked both regionally and nationally to enforce against people they suspect are flouting Covid-19 laws.

"In this case, the officers clearly informed the woman of her options and how she was able to contest the fixed penalty notice.

"We are committed to keeping our communities safe from the virus."