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A police force is reviewing fixed penalty notices issued during the latest national lockdown after two friends were told their hot drinks were in breach of the laws as they were “classed as a picnic”.
Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore were handed £200 penalty notices for alleged breaches of lockdown rules while on a walk at a remote spot around five miles from their homes in Leicestershire.
Derbyshire police said the women could have taken exercise closer to their home addresses and described their actions as “clearly not in the spirit of the national effort” to reduce travel and the spread of coronavirus.
The force said all fixed penalty notices will be reviewed after it received clarification about the coronavirus regulations from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which informed them that “Covid regulations which officers enforce and which enables them to issue FPNs (fixed penalty notices) for breaches, do not restrict the distance travelled for exercise”.
Derbyshire police said: “All fixed penalty notices during this relevant period that have been issued will be reviewed for compliance. All recipients will be contacted.”
Allen, who lives in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, described the decision to fine her for being at Foremark reservoir on Wednesday as “bonkers”.
She told the BBC: “As we drove in there was a police van, a police car, and there were loads of police there.
“I genuinely thought someone had been murdered; the place is normally so quiet.
“The next thing, my car is surrounded. I got out of my car thinking: ‘There’s no way they’re coming to speak to us.’ Straight away they start questioning us.
“I said we had come in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us. He [a policeman] said: ‘You can’t do that as it’s classed as a picnic.’”
Allen said she is taking the pandemic “very seriously” because her brother is a doctor working on a Covid ward in London, and her parents have both had coronavirus.
Current lockdown guidance advises the public to limit exercise – including running, cycling, swimming and walking – to once a day and says while people can leave their home, they should not travel outside their local area.
Exercise is permitted within a group from the same property, or when on your own with one person from another household.
The force’s assistant chief constable Kem Mehmet added: “Since the start of the pandemic Derbyshire constabulary have been working to understand the ever-changing guidance and legislation and to communicate this to our officers in a way that makes it clear what is the right course of action to take.
“We are grateful for the guidance from the NPCC and our officers will continue to use the 4Es approach [explain, engage, encourage, enforce] and will of course encourage people to follow the guidance and where appropriate deal with breaches of the regulations.
“The actions of our officers continues to be to protect the public, the NHS and to help save lives.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Derbyshire police to review lockdown fines after walkers given £200 penalties | Coronavirus