Woman Fined £200 For Walk With Friend Hits Back At 'Evil Trolls'
A woman who was fined £200 after travelling five miles for a walk with a friend has hit back at 'trolls'.
Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, both 27, said they were surrounded by police when they arrived separately at Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire on Wednesday (6 January).
As well as being hit with the fine, they said officers claimed the peppermint teas they'd brought from Starbucks constituted a picnic.
Derbyshire Police said their outing was 'not in the spirit' of the lockdown - but beautician Jessica has hit back at 'evil trolls' online, claiming she 'did not break the law'.
In a post on Instagram, she said: "Let's just be reminded. On Wednesday the guidelines were 'you are aloud [sic] to travel to an open space for exercise' so all of you evil trolls with nothing better to do. We did not break the law.
"There was never a law for this!!!!!
"Hence why Derbyshire Police have had to look at their response to people and no longer aloud [sic] to issue fines for this no matter what the distance we are from home!!!
"Read into it before commenting!!!"
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner echoed this.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "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."
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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) which stated 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 FPNs would be reviewed.
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."
Matt Hancock has subsequently backed the officers' decision to fine Jessica and Eliza.
When quizzed by Sky News, the Health Secretary said: "I'm absolutely going to back the police because the challenge here is that every flex can be fatal.
"You might look at the rules and think 'Well, it doesn't matter too much if I just do this or do that'.
"But these rules are not there as boundaries to be pushed, they are the limit to what people should be doing.
"The police are right to take very seriously the rules we have brought in. We haven't brought them in because we wanted to, we've brought them in because we had to."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
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