Priti Patel defends police crackdown on Covid rule-breakers

The Home Secretary has defended the “need for strong enforcement”of Covid rules by the police after criticism that even minor breaches were being met with the full force of the law. Priti Patel said officers will continue to “engage with the public” and “will not hesitate to take action when necessary” amid calls for lockdown to be stricter as cases and deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise. The approach of officers towards those found flouting the rules was brought into question after Derbyshire Police fined two women GBP200 each for driving to a beauty spot five miles from their homes for a walk – with one saying she had been informed by officers that in bringing a hot drink the meet up was “classed as a picnic”.

“Our police officers are working tirelessly to keep us safe” Ms Patel said. “Not only are they continuing to take criminals off our streets, but they are also playing a crucial role in controlling the spread of the virus. “The vast majority of the public have supported this huge national effort and followed the rules. “But the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules to ensure we safeguard our country’s recovery from this deadly virus.

“Enforcing these rules saves lives. It is as simple as that. Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary.”

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, both 27, said they believed they had both been observing the rules to stay local when they met in the Derbyshire countryside 10 minutes from their home town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. However after meeting with their cars parked two bays apart, they found themselves quickly surrounded by officers in the beauty spot. “We thought there must have been a murder or something,” said beautician Ms Allen. “I genuinely thought something major had happened as the place is normally so quiet.

The next thing, my car is surrounded by police and they start questioning us as soon as we both set foot outside.

“One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ‘This must be a joke’.” Derbyshire Police has since pledged to review all fixed penalty notices issued during the latest national lockdown after an intervention from the National Police Chief’s Council. “We are grateful for the guidance from the NPCC”, Assistant Chief Constable Kem Mehmet said. “We will of course encourage people to follow the guidance and where appropriate deal with breaches of the regulations.

Elsewhere West Mercia Police issued warning over those looking to take advantage of the recent snowfall in the area.

In a tweet the force told residents across Shropshire that having a snowball fight was “obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house”, adding that such actions would be “likely to result”; in a GBP200 fine.

You may also like...