Police urge public to avoid travelling during lockdown as fines issued

Luke Powell, PA
·4-min read

Police forces across England have urged people to stay home and avoid travelling as they continue to fine those breaching lockdown restrictions.

Several constabularies issued the message on Saturday as doctors said that pressure on the NHS from coronavirus could get worse in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Wiltshire Police chief constable Kier Pritchard warned that those breaching Covid-19 rules would face enforcement action “much quicker”.

Writing in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald on Saturday, he said: “Although we will continue to police with consent and in a proportionate way, my officers will move to enforcement much quicker when confronted with people clearly breaching the rules.”

It comes as Derbyshire Police attracted criticism for issuing two women with £200 fines after they went for a walk at a remote spot around five miles from their homes.

The force has since said it would review all fixed penalty notices issued during the national lockdown after it received clarification about the coronavirus regulations.

Jessica Allen, who received the fine with friend Eliza Moore, told BBC News: “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 (Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce) 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.”

Elsewhere, the Metropolitan Police said it had fined the owners of a north-east London gym for breaching lockdown rules by remaining open.

Officers were called to the fitness centre on Stean Street in Hackney on Friday to reports of a breach of regulations.

The gym was open and three people were found inside, resulting in the owners being issued a £1,000 fine, the Met said.

It comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” in the capital as the spread of coronavirus threatens to “overwhelm” its hospitals.

City Hall said Covid-19 cases in London had exceeded 1,000 per 100,000, while there are 35% more people in hospital with the virus than in the peak of the pandemic in April.

NHS England figures published on Friday showed the number of Covid patients in London hospitals stands at 7,277, up 32% on the previous week.

North Wales Police said its officers had dealt with people breaching coronavirus rules at Moel Famau in Flintshire.

The force’s rural crime team account tweeted: “Another day wasted dealing with Covid rule breakers.

“So frustrating that we have to deal with these people who simply don’t care whilst the vast majority of us do the right thing and stay at home.

“We are seeing people from England and various areas of Wales…so selfish.”

Norfolk Police said it had fined a man and a woman who drove more than 120 miles to look at a seal colony.

The couple travelled by car from their home in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire to Horsey in Norfolk on Thursday, the force said.

In a message on Twitter, Norfolk Police said its officers will “target those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour”.

The force urged people to “stay local” and avoid travelling outside of their village, town or city.