The Transport Secretary has warned that more British Transport Police officers have been drafted in over fears that trains will be packed as Londoners try a last-ditch attempt to get back home following new tier 4 restrictions.

Grant Shapps MP this morning warned the public that they must not travel, and urged them to stay at home as extra officers are to be deployed to trains to enforce social distancing and keep people safe.

Last night footage captured hundreds of people at London stations attempting to flee the impending Tier 4 restrictions which came into affect at midnight.

The last trains to leave the capital were packed full of passengers, and people were warned that "social distancing would not be possible" due to the volume of people trying to travel.

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Professor Chris Whitty had last night begged people to stay at home yesterday evening as the rules were unveiled, warning: "If you have packed a bag, unpack it."

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy added: "The message is clear - to combat this virus, you must follow the guidance and stay at home.

"At stations we will be deploying extra staff, announcements will make the law clear and additional BTP officers are in place to ensure that only essential journeys take place."

A British Transport Police spokesperson said: “As has been the case throughout the pandemic our officers will continue to be highly-visible, patrolling services and stations on the rail network in tier 4 locations and nationwide throughout the Christmas period.

"Officers will continue supporting rail staff in engaging with passengers and reminding those who do need to travel to wear face coverings.

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"We hope that the public will continue to act responsibly and play their part in helping to protect themselves, and each other, by following the guidance and restrictions set out by the Government, as well as complying with the requirement to wear face coverings.”

This morning the Mr Shapps MP said it was “vital” that the public followed the new guidance.

“Unfortunately the new Covid-19 strain is up to 70% more transmissible!

“It's vital to follow the new guidance to protect others and our NHS. If you're in Tier 4 you must not travel – or stay away from home overnight. Stay at home! Extra BTP officers deployed to keep people safe”

In a statement he added: "It is incredibly important that people follow the guidance, stay at home and do not attempt to travel. Our focus must be stopping the spread of this virus, protecting lives and our NHS.

"If you are in tier 4, the law means you must stay at home and you cannot stay overnight away from home. Across the rest of the country you must stay local.

“Follow the guidance and please do not come to a station unless you are permitted to travel.

"Extra BTP officers are being deployed to ensure only those who need to take essential journeys can travel safely.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning speaking on the Andrew Marr show said the scenes of packed stations were totally “irresponsible”.

He said: “What matters is that everybody has a responsibility, the best gift you can give this Christmas is to stay at home and not transmit the virus.”

When asked if police would blockade roads he said: “Of course, I’ve spoken to the home secretary and the BTP’s responsibility is to police the transport system, but I hope this will be done by consent as it has been done so often.

When asked if police will be stopping people getting onto trains he said: “Of course, it’s the polices responsibility to police the law, and the law came into force in the early hours of this morning.”