Police tactics questioned as lockdown fines issued across UK

Questions have been raised about how clear lockdown rules are after armed forces across the UK fined violations.

A number of police forces have announced that they have taken action as the NHS deals with an increase in infections caused by the new variant of the virus.

In Derbyshire, two women were fined £ 200 after walking in a remote location five miles from their homes.

Derbyshire Police, criticized for the move, have since announced they will be reviewing all criminal charges issued during the national lockdown after receiving clarifications on coronavirus regulations.

However, firm messages are still being issued by the police to enforce the latest lockdown.

Wiltshire police say people are now being treated faster for violations, while city police have announced they have taken action after a gym stayed open.

In North Wales, police at Moel Famau, a beauty spot in Flintshire, dealt with people violating coronavirus rules.

The Armed Forces Rural Crime Team report tweeted, “Another day wasted dealing with Covid rule violations.

“So frustrating that we have to deal with these people who just don’t care, while the vast majority of us are doing the right thing and staying home.

“We see people from England and different parts of Wales … so selfish.”

Norfolk Police also said they had fined a man and woman who drove more than 120 miles to look at a seal colony.

The troop revealed the couple had traveled by car from their home in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire to Horsey in Norfolk on Thursday.

In a message on Twitter, Norfolk Police said their officers were “targeting those who commit the most serious violations and who put others at risk”.

The force has also urged people to “stay on the ground” and not travel outside of their village, town or community.

Former Durham Police Chief Mike Barton said politicians need to keep their messages “simple” regarding Covid-19 regulations and avoid changing the rules that much.

He made these comments after the two women were fined by Derbyshire police for traveling across the county line to Foremark Reservoir for a socially detached walk, separated from their Leicestershire homes.

They said they were surrounded by police officers before being told that the two drinks they bought separately at Starbucks were “picnics”.

Mr Barton told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “I personally think Derbyshire will row back from this position but unfortunately some damage is being done here because in order to comply with the law the public has to think and see that it is the police act fair.

“It’s called procedural justice. If the police don’t act fairly, the public won’t comply.”

The lockdown guidance urges the public to limit movement to once a day, saying that people can leave their homes but should not travel outside their area.

Mr Barton, who headed Durham Police Department for seven years, said the lack of a clear definition of the word “local” was part of the problem.

He said, “The key to this pandemic is that the news is clear. It is Whitehall who wrote this.

“In Scotland, when they talked about people who don’t travel, they said you couldn’t cross a local authority area. Now everyone knows what that means when we suddenly came up with the word locally.

“None of these problems have ever been described by law before, so it’s no wonder there is some confusion out there.”

Mr Barton said that “hundreds” of different rules have been sent to police forces in the past nine months – and that there has been little training on how to enforce those rules.

He said, “I have great compassion for the police, but just as much for these two women who trained in a way they believed was safe.

“I would ask that politicians stop changing the rules so much and keep the news simple.”

Derbyshire Police said the women they fined could have trained closer to their home addresses and said their actions were “clearly not in line with the national effort” to allow travel and the possible spread of Covid to decrease.

Still Derbyshire Live has reported anger in the county over fines imposed by police on people visiting local beauty spots.

In response to the Foremark Reservoir incident, one reader said, “Shame the police should be incredibly ashamed. The government says you can go for a walk and it won’t hurt to bring a coffee.”

Others said it was unfair to impose fines before receiving a formal warning. However, there was support for the police, who some said were “only doing their job to keep people safe”.

The website imposes a £ 200 fine on anyone traveling outside their area. Police have also been present at Calke Abbey and Elvaston Castle for the past few days.

Jessica Allen, who was fined with her friend Eliza Moore, told BBC News: “We are happy to hear that Derbyshire police have been instructed not to be so harsh with fines and get back to the Four Es (Engage, Explain , Encourage, forcing) what they originally did.

“We haven’t heard about our fine yet, but if we’ve managed to save someone from worrying about going for a walk and fearing a fine will be imposed, we’ve done what we set out to do.”

Wiltshire Police Chief Kier Pritchard has warned that those who break Covid-19 rules will face enforcement actions “much faster”.

In the Wiltshire Gazette and the Herald, he wrote: “While we will continue to monitor the police with consent and in an appropriate manner, my officers will move on to enforcement much more quickly when confronted with someone who is clearly against the rules.”

In London, metropolitan police officers were called to the fitness center on Stean Street in Hackney on Friday to report a rule violation.

The Met said the gym was open and three people were found inside, which resulted in the owners being fined £ 1,000.

It comes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” as the spread of Covid-19 threatens to “overwhelm” his hospitals.

City hall said virus cases in London exceeded 1,000 per 100,000.

There are 35 percent more people hospitalized with the virus than at the height of the pandemic in April.

Figures released by NHS England on Friday showed the number of Covid patients in London hospitals is 7,277, a 32 percent increase from the previous week.

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