Covid fine review welcomed by 'intimidated' women

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image copyrightJessica Allen
image captionJessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore said their cars were "surrounded" by police

Two women who criticised a police force for its "intimidating" approach to lockdown fines have welcomed a review.

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore were walking at a reservoir five miles from their home when they were stopped by officers and fined £200 each.

Derbyshire Police insisted driving to exercise was "not in the spirit" of lockdown but later said new guidance meant it would look again at the issue.

Both women said they were pleased the force had decided to think again.

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa said an "urgent review" was under way about how fines had been issued.

Longstanding guidance from the College of Policing says officers should follow the "Four Es" and only give fixed penalty notices as a last resort.

image copyrightStuart Woodman
image captionJessica Allen and Eliza Moore said their cars were surrounded by police when they arrived

Ms Allen said: "We are happy to hear that Derbyshire Police have been told to not be so heavy handed with fines and return to the Four Es they were originally doing.

"We are yet to hear anything regarding our fine but if we have managed to save somebody the worry of going for a walk and fearing they would be fined then we have done what we set out to do."

Ms Allen and Ms Moore drove separately from Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire the five miles to Foremark Reservoir on Wednesday afternoon.

They said their cars were "surrounded" by police, questioned on why they were there and told the hot drinks they had brought along were not allowed as they were "classed as a picnic".

Ms Allen said the experience was "very intimidating" and had left her feeling scared of police in general.

Initially Derbyshire Police defended its actions, saying legislation said trips should be "local" and driving to a location to exercise "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".

image copyrightStuart Woodman
image captionDerbyshire police also fined visitors to other beauty spots like Calke Abbey

Derbyshire Police has also been giving fixed penalty notices to people who visit beauty spots at Calke Abbey and Elvaston Castle.

But later, the force said new guidance from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) had "clarified the policing response concerning travel and exercise".

The guidance said: "The 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."

Mr Dhindsa said: "It would appear that the force has been a little over-zealous in its interpretation of the guidance.

"While the police can enforce the regulations, guidance is just that which can make this a very challenging and complex situation to police."

The chief constable of neighbouring Nottinghamshire, Craig Guildford, said: "We are not out and about telling people they have gone too far from home. We trust the public to take these regulations seriously.

"Derbyshire to be fair to them have some unique places that people may want to go to from a load of counties.

"But our approach is around reasonableness. If someone has gone 50 miles, we will take action, if someone has gone a couple of miles we are very sensible."

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