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Coronavirus: Thousands spoken to by police for flouting lockdown

A campervan next to Wast Water Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police have told tourists to stay away from the Lake District

Police spoke to thousands of people for flouting social distancing rules over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

They include a couple from Hertfordshire who drove to Brighton to walk on the beach and a family from London who drove to the Lake District.

Essex Police said it had spoken to about 1,600 people over the weekend for making inappropriate journeys.

Other police forces, however, thanked the public for observing the rules.

Lancashire Police said a family attempting to visit the Lake District were stopped by officers on Easter Monday.

The family claimed they thought the 500-mile round trip was acceptable if they wore masks and gloves.

Lancashire Police issued the driver with a fine and sent them back home. The family were criticised as "absolute idiots" and called "clowns" after the force posted about it on Twitter.

Image copyright Purbeck Police

On Saturday, Dorset Police posted on Facebook that its officers had stopped "numerous vehicles" from entering the popular beauty spot of Lulworth.

"Their excuses for travelling did not fit into the government guidelines & have therefore been issued fines and sent back home," the post said.

Sussex Police said more than 100 notices were given out, the majority of which were in Brighton.

"All of the FPNs issued in Brighton and Hove Division were to people who live outside of Sussex," a force spokesman said.

In Camber, East Sussex, police said they fined couple from St Albans who made the 150 mile round trip "to come and walk on the beach" as well as a man from Bexley, London, who admitted to "riding around the South East on his motorbike".

Giles York, Chief Constable of Sussex Police, said: "Local people are listening and doing the right thing by staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

Image copyright ANDY RAIN
Image caption Victoria Park in east London

In South Yorkshire, a senior police officer thanked people across the county for staying at home.

Supt Paul McCurry said a "big thank you" after a long weekend of enhanced police patrols was met with "largely desolate streets, parks and roads" across the county.

He said: "The overwhelming response from the public remains positive and we've only moved to enforcement on a very small number of occasions."

A total of 24 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued by South Yorkshire officers between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, most commonly in response to non-essential travel, it added

Andy Prophet, Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police, tweeted the force had spoken to 1,595 residents or visitors to the county over 72 hours of the Bank Holiday weekend about appropriate journeys or social distancing.

Eight fines were issued by the force over that time, ACC Prophet said, as he thanked the county for its efforts to maintain lockdown rules.

Police in Plymouth, Devon, issued fines to three members of the same family who reportedly travelled from London for a "holiday" to see a cousin.

In Torquay, a family who had arrived overnight for a "spot of fishing" were escorted out of the county, according to a tweet from a local officer.

Police in St Austell, Cornwall, seized two vehicles travelling into the county stating that "some" of the people travelling in them had been arrested.

On Saturday, Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), said there were a "a small minority of people who refused to follow instruction and powers had been used".

"Early data" from 37 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales showed 1,084 "fines" had been issued, he said.

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