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Derbyshire Police To Review Penalties After Walkers Given £200 Fines

Derbyshire Police To Review Penalties After Walkers Given £200 Fines

Their trip was classed as a 'picnic' as they had brought drinks with them

Dominic Smithers

Dominic Smithers

Police in Derbyshire are to review fixed penalty notices handed out during the current national lockdown after they fined two walkers who travelled five miles from their home for a stroll.

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, from Leicestershire, were slapped with £200 penalty notices after allegedly breaking the lockdown rules.

Police said the pair could have exercised closer to their homes and that their actions were 'clearly not in the spirit of the national effort' to reduce travel and the spread of the deadly disease.

According to the two friends, officers told them that their actions were classed as a 'picnic' due to them bringing drinks along with them.

Speaking about the incident, beautician Jessica said: "As we drove in there was a police van, a police car, and there were loads of police there - we thought there must have been a murder or something.

"I genuinely thought something major had happened as the place is normally so quiet.

The pair of mates were fined £200 for allegedly breaching lockdown rules.

"The next thing, my car is surrounded by police and they start questioning us as soon as we both set foot outside.

"One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking, 'This must be a joke'.

"I pointed out that we came in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us.

"He said, 'You can't do that as it's classed as a picnic'. I couldn't believe what I was hearing."

Eliza, who is a member of cabin crew for British Airways, and runs a make-up business, said she was 'stunned' by the fine.

She added: "Just seeing a police officer anyway is quite scary for some people and we were really not expecting to be approached and to be told we were doing something wrong.

"We don't want to get away with it if we have broken the rule, but it seems a bit unfair that you can be fined on something that's so vague."

According to guidance, exercise should be limited to a person's 'local area', though this is not specifically defined by miles.

Derbyshire Police has confirmed it will be reviewing penalty notices handed out during the current lockdown.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner told the BBC: "There is no law against travelling to exercise.

"The guidance is not legally binding and the police have no power to enforce it unless it is reflected in the lockdown regulations which in this case it is not."

A Derbyshire Police spokesperson said: "The current guidance states that while you are able to exercise you should do so locally - defined as being within your village, town or city area.

"We of course understand that there may be valid reasons for travelling outside of these areas for exercise, however, driving to a location - where exercise could easily have been taken closer to a person's home - is clearly not in the spirit of the national effort to reduce our travel, reduce the possible spread of the disease and reduce the number of deaths.

"Each officer will use their professional judgement on a case-by-case basis, however, people should expect to be challenged and understand the clear reasons why they may be asked about their movements given the critical situation the NHS currently finds itself in."

Following clarification from the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), Derbyshire police said notices issued will be looked at.

The force added: "All fixed penalty notices during this relevant period that have been issued will be reviewed for compliance. All recipients will be contacted."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Police, lockdown, Coronavirus, Covid-19