Derbyshire police and the region’s crime commissioner have apologised to two women who were fined £200 each for driving five miles to go for a walk while England is in a national lockdown.
Jessica Allen and her friend Eliza Moore were fined by police after they each travelled separately from their Leicestershire homes to meet for a quiet walk five miles away in neighbouring Derbyshire last week. They later said they’d been “surrounded” by police officers who handed them fines and told them the peppermint teas they were carrying were classed as an unlawful picnic.
Under England’s national lockdown rules, you may only leave home to shop, go to work, exercise with a member of your household or one other person, meet your support bubble, seek medical assistance, or attend education. At all times, unless necessary, you must remain within your local area.
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British women fined for going on WALK, told by police that carrying tea is ‘classed as picnic’
Derbyshire Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa launched a review into the matter after criticism mounted following news reports of the police rebuke and fines. While defending the officers over the “difficult job” they are doing “in really trying circumstances,” he accepted the police are “big enough to apologise” over this particular incident.
Having looked at it, listening to what I know, it looks as if we might have been able to deal with it differently.
Although he did not use the word himself, when asked by British media if police were being “overzealous” in their lockdown enforcements at the risk of angering people doing their best to comply with coronavirus restrictions, Dhindsa accepted that they “could be.”
The fines imposed on the pair have also now been removed, according to their local MP, Tory politician Andrew Bridgen.
“The laws must be enforced but not overstepped,” he tweeted.
My two constituents who were fined by Derbyshire police on Thursday for attempting to walk around Foremark Reservoir have had there fines removed. The laws must be enforced but not overstepped.
— Andrew Bridgen (@ABridgen) January 11, 2021
The police apology and the removal of the fine came on the same day that UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi appeared on UK morning news shows to urge the public to act as if they have the virus, warning that lockdown rules are “not boundaries to be pushed,” as cases continue to surge and hospitals are set to be overwhelmed.
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