Cops crack down HARDER on flouters
Cops crack down HARDER on flouters: Police fine daughter visiting her mother in care home, a Pokemon fan found 14 miles from home and a woman who drove 100 miles across three counties to get a McDonald’s burger
The police crackdown on Britons breaking lockdown rules has intensified with fines issued to a man travelling 14 miles to play Pokemon Go and a woman who drove 100 miles across three counties to get a McDonald’s burger.
Another man was fined after travelling more than 110 miles from York to Leicester via Birmingham to visit a friend, while a group of boy racers were penalised after gathered for a car meet in Castle Donington, Leicestershire.
A couple were fined £60 for driving 20 minutes to see a relative in a care home in South Wales, while a man and woman were fined £200 each after travelling from Essex to Ashford, Kent, to pick up a toy remote-controlled car.
And three men from Wolverhampton and a man from Cornwall were fined £200 each in two separate incidents after trying to travel abroad at the Port of Dover without a valid reason and then tried to use the Channel Tunnel.
The tougher approach to lockdown breaches comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel said a minority of the public are ‘putting the health of the nation at risk’ as they break rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Here are some examples of Covid-related fines issued across England and Wales by police in recent days:
Carol Richards, 68, and husband David, 66, were fined by police on the way back from seeing her elderly mother
In South Wales, a wife and her husband in their 60s were fined £60 by police after travelling ten miles to see her 94-year-old mother in a care home in Porthcawl through her window with permission from staff.
Carol Richards, 68, and husband David, 66, of Bridgend were reprimanded by police on the way back from seeing dementia sufferer Decima Minhinnick, 94, at Picton Court Care Home, which was a 20-minute journey each way.
Mrs Richards said: ‘I feel like I’m living in some sort of dystopian novel after what happened. A police lady flagged us down and I thought ‘Oh right, they’re policing the area, that’s fine’.
The couple saw Decima Minhinnick, 94, a resident at a care home in Porthcawl, South Wales, through the window
‘So I explained to her that we were going home, we’d been to Picton Court visiting my mother but she said this was a non-essential visit. She said ‘We’d all like to knock on our mother’s window to see them but you can’t do that’.’
Ms Minhinnick lives at Picton Court Care Home in Porthcawl
‘I was totally gobsmacked. I was angry. She just would not listen to any protestations and so she said ‘You’re going to be issued with a £60 fixed penalty fine’.’
The couple said they do not believe they breached lockdown rules and have complained to the Police Complaints Commissioner.
Mrs Richards said: ‘I do not want to pay this fine. It’s not about the £60, it’s about the principle and I want to go on seeing my mother. It needs to be clarified.
‘I want to see my mother again, she’s 94, she could be dead next month. Now I feel as if I’m breaking the law by driving down there to see her.’
According to Welsh Government guidelines, outdoor visits to care homes are allowed for ‘compassionate reasons’.
But a South Wales Police spokesman said: ‘At 4.15pm on Sunday January 10, a police officer on patrol in the Porthcawl area issued a fixed penalty notice to a man who had travelled from his home in Penyfai to visit a relative.
‘With Wales currently at Alert Level 4, Welsh Government regulations state that people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes and must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with.
‘In order to support the national effort to help slow the spread of the virus, and assist in enforcing the restrictions, our officers have been given authority to stop any vehicle travelling within the force area, to check the reason for travel.’
Another man was fined after travelling over 110 miles from York to Leicester, via Birmingham, just to visit a friend
Body-cam footage shows an officer reprimanding the man
In Leicestershire, police released footage of officers dealing with ‘shocking and ridiculous’ examples of lockdown breaches after fining 142 people for breaking coronavirus regulations in just a single weekend.
Leicestershire Police said a total of £57,800 penalty notices were dished out across their force area between last Friday and Sunday.
They included a group of 37 boy racers who gathered for a car meet in Castle Donington, with many travelling from outside the county, as well as a house party of more than 30 people in Leicester city centre.
Another person had travelled over 110 miles from York to Leicester, via Birmingham, just to visit a friend.
Body-cam footage shows an officer telling him: ‘That’s a bit of a kick in the teeth really after the year we’ve had so I’m going to give you a ticket. That’s not reasonable is it? You’ve come way out.’
Police were also called to an address in Stretton where six men from different households claimed they were having a business meeting over beer and food.
A group of 37 boy racers were fined after gathering for a car meet in Castle Donington, Leicestershire
Three people caught in the same car together can be seen telling police they were ‘just chilling’ after work and pleaded: ‘It’s only been for five minutes.’
Another clip shows a motorist driving to a hotel to give his friend £10 just days after he received a fine for another Covid breach.
One officer revealed he has battled coronavirus as he shut down a party of ten people inside a Leicester house while the homeowner pleaded his innocence.
He can be heard saying: ‘I still don’t know anyone who’s got it, don’t know anyone that’s died from it.’
One officer revealed he has battled coronavirus as he shut down a party of ten people inside a Leicester house
The officer tells him: ‘I’ve had Covid, it’s not very pleasant, believe me. You don’t seem to appreciate the severity of the situation our country is in, sir. Because of things like this, people are dying.’
Assistant Chief Constable Kerry Smith said: ‘Over the weekend we dealt with a number incidents where people had no excuse for their behaviour. Some of the reasons for being outside were ridiculous and this is what officers are having to deal with.
‘We cannot be clearer about how this is the only way to stop the spread of the virus. Stay at home, protect the NHS. ‘There really is no excuse this far into the pandemic for people to be taking these risks.’
Police confronted a homeowner who had a party in Leicester
A couple from Huddersfield were fined as they were stopped in their vehicle and stated they were visiting a cousin. A vehicle was stopped at McDonald’s Wigston found to contain four males from different households.
A man was fined after police found he was still taking customers in his nail bar in Stockwell. Two women who were waiting to have their nails done were also spoken to.
A man and woman from Bradford were fined after their vehicle was stopped in Leicester, with no reasonable excuse given.
A man from Coalville was also fined after he said he didn’t believe in the pandemic and that it was fine that his brother came to visit him from Manchester.
And officers attended an address in Leicester where a birthday party of around 11 people from different households had taken place. The household was fined.
In addition, a vehicle was stopped with two men inside, one of which had travelled from Coventry to spend the night with his cousin.
And officers attended Belgrave Gate after a group of 20 people were seen in several cars, hugging and dancing in the street on CCTV.
A woman drove from Lincolnshire for a McDonald’s meal with her sister in Scarborough, North Yorkshire (file picture)
A woman was fined by police after she drove 100 miles across three counties to get a burger.
North Yorkshire Police issued a fixed penalty notice to the motorist, who is in her 30s, on Saturday after she drove from Lincolnshire for a McDonald’s meal with her sister in Scarborough in breach of Covid-19 regulations.
Chief Inspector Rachel Wood of North Yorkshire Police said: ‘Driving through three counties to get a burger is not classed as essential travel.
‘Most people in North Yorkshire are trying really hard to stop the spread of Covid in our communities and protect the vulnerable.
‘When this pandemic is over, we know everyone’s looking forward to going where they want, when they want.’
Pokemon Go is a computer game which involves tracking and swapping colourful monsters on a smartphone
In Warwickshire, a man was fined £200 after travelling 14 miles from his home in Bedworth to play the computer game Pokemon Go in Kenilworth.
Police said he was fined for ‘contravening the requirement to not leave or be outside the place they live without a reasonable excuse’.
A Warwickshire Police spokesman said: ‘Everyone has a part to play in ensuring they slow the spread of the virus. We would like to remind people they must not leave or be outside their home unless they have a reasonable excuse.’
It comes after Essex Police clashed with a group of men, all aged over 30, who tried to argue that playing Pokemon Go, which involves tracking and swapping colourful monsters on a smartphone, was a form of exercise.
Two people were fined £200 each after being caught travelling from Staffordshire to Liverpool for a New Year party. Police stopped the car carrying multiple people on the M6 on New Year’s Day.
It soon became clear they were from different households and were therefore breaching coronavirus rules. A 23-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were fined.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: ‘We have issued fines to two people from different households found travelling together from Tamworth and Birmingham to Liverpool for a party.
‘Officers stopped a vehicle on the M6 Hilton services on Friday, January 1 and found people from multiple households travelling together in a vehicle. A 23-year-old woman from Tamworth and a 21-year-old man from Alum Rock in Birmingham were each issued with a £200 fine.’
Tamworth and Birmingham had both entered the strictest Tier 4 restrictions for coronavirus on New Year’s Eve, meaning people must not leave their home unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ such as work, education, essential shopping or medical appointments.
Deputy Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, Emma Barnett, said: ‘It is critical that communities continue to work together to follow the rules, to help prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed by the new strain of Covid-19 and to prevent more lives being lost.
‘We recognise that the last ten months have been very challenging for people and will continue to be so over the coming weeks.
‘I would like to thank the vast majority of people across our county for following the rules and adhering to the stricter guidelines.
‘As throughout the pandemic, our officers will work with local communities to engage with people proportionately, fairly and using common sense, to encourage compliance with the regulations.
‘Where people are determined to break these rules, which are in place to keep people safe, we will not hesitate to move to enforcement and issue a fine, targeting our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.
‘Our experience so far is that the vast majority of people have taken personal responsibility for doing the right thing and I am confident that will continue so that we can bring the virus under control and start to think about a return to a more normal way of life.’
Thirty fines for breaching lockdown rules were issued by just one police force in the first weekend – including a woman who drove 60 miles to pick up a remote-controlled car.
Kent Police clocked up more than £7,500-worth of fixed penalty notices for breaches of the latest national lockdown restrictions, which came into force on January 5.
Over the weekend cops busted revellers at a house party caught hugging and kissing each other when they broke up a rave in Ramsgate.
Officers heard loud music and raised voices on Saturday night, so went to investigate and ended up fining two rule-breakers £200 each.
That same day a patrol car stopped a woman and her partner in Ashford after they travelled from Essex to pick up a toy remote-controlled car she bought on Facebook. Both were fined £200, police said.
Also on Saturday, one man was fined twice in one day after being stopped by officers in Cliftonville, saying he travelled from Lancashire to Kent to visit a friend.
He was fined and sent home, but later found by cops to have gone back to still see his friend and slapped with another £200 fixed penalty.
Three men from Wolverhampton and a man from Cornwall were fined £200 each during two separate incidents after trying to travel abroad at the Port of Dover without a valid reason and, despite being turned away, then tried to cross via the Channel Tunnel.
Three people were then fined after being stopped in Ashford after being warned earlier about gathering in a large group.
Despite saying they understood the warning, within hours they were seen again and fined £200 each, Kent Police said.
Elsewhere in the county a man in Chatham who was supposed to be self-isolating but instead left his home to go to the Post Office after someone in his household tested positive for the virus was stopped by cops and fined £1,000.
A woman in Sittingbourne was fined £200 for leaving her home to visit someone outside of her bubble and household and another woman was fined the same amount for being at the train station outside without a valid reason.
Another man was stopped in Gravesend and fined £200 after attending a party with friends, police said.
One man was also fined £1,000 as he should have been isolating after a positive test, when officers found him sitting on a bench inside a shopping centre in Gillingham.
The next day, Sunday, a man was fine £200 for holding a small birthday party in Canterbury.
Five men travelling together in a vehicle from Leicester were all fined £200 for trying to go to France without a ‘permitted reason’ at the Port of Dover and despite being turned away, also later tried to travel through the Channel Tunnel instead.
Another man was also fined £200 for cleaning a vehicle at a car wash that should have been closed in Tunbridge Wells. A customer at the car wash was also fined £200 for having his car cleaned.
Two men in Folkestone were fined £200 each in separate incidents in which they both met up with a group of people not in their households.
Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police Claire Nix said: ‘The vast majority of Kent residents continue to do the right thing and are following the rules, helping to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.
‘Unfortunately, there are still some people who think it is acceptable to throw parties, gather outside in large numbers or commit other serious breaches of COVID-19 regulations.
‘Holidays within the UK and abroad are also prohibited unless for permitted reasons and, despite this advice, seven people attempted to cross the Channel at the weekend without valid reasons and were fined as a result.
‘The Government has been very clear that the best way to protect everyone is to stay at home as part of this third national lockdown and no one should be attempting holidays or breaching other rules, not just for their own protection but to prevent the spread of the virus.
‘I am urging all Kent residents to visit the government website and know what is acceptable at this time.
‘Anyone who is permitted to travel abroad should also obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure. Anyone who turns up at the ports without one will also be turned away.
‘It is also unacceptable that officers around the county are still finding some individuals organising or attending house parties with no regard for the seriousness of this pandemic.
‘In these situations we will have no choice but to take enforcement action. People doing this are not only putting their own lives at risk but that of anyone they meet, some of whom will be extremely vulnerable.
‘Anyone who flagrantly or repeatedly breaks the rules at a time when there is so much pressure on Kent’s health services should be left in no doubt that action will be taken against them.’
In Cheshire, police handed out a total of 58 fines over the weekend – with most relating to parties and gatherings, while vehicles were also stopped carrying multiple people from different households or from another county.
Three fines were issued after a barbecue was held at a house in Crewe, a further eight were handed out in Chester to people at a house party and four were issued in Warrington at a children’s birthday party.
Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims said: ‘We have been living with some form of restrictions for around 10 months now and we have had to make incredible sacrifices in order to keep the ones we love safe.
‘The majority of people living in Cheshire have been sticking to the rules in place and I would like to thank them for doing so.
‘However, there is a minority who continue to blatantly and repeatedly flout the rules in place. This is not acceptable.
‘Our officers will continue to engage, explain and encourage but when they are met with these persistent rule breakers who have no regard for the safety of others, we must do what we can to protect the NHS and save lives.’
PRITI PATEL’S CRACKDOWN
Yesterday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said a minority of the public were ‘putting the health of the nation at risk’ as she backed a tougher police approach to lockdown rules.
Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing yesterday, she said that officers are moving more quickly to issuing fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations, with nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices issued across the UK since March.
Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said that more officers will be out on dedicated patrols to deal with rule breakers, while Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has also spoken to councils about enforcing the regulations.
Latest figures showed that as of yesterday, a further 1,243 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, which brings the UK total to 81,960.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 99,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The Government also said that, as of 9am yesterday, there had been a further 45,533 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 3,118,518.
Mr Hewitt told the briefing that officers will not ‘linger’ trying to encourage the public to obey lockdown rules.
He said: ‘It is very clear that we are now at the most dangerous stage of the pandemic.
‘There is a real and present risk that our health service could be overwhelmed and people – our friends and family – could die needlessly from this virus.
‘So, we must all play a part in stopping that from happening. Ten months on, the rules are clear and I urge everyone to abide by them
‘With a virus spreading so rapidly through contact with others we should all be asking ourselves whether our reason to leave home is truly essential. Those personal decisions are critical.’
He gave examples of recent breaches including a boat party in Hertfordshire with more than 40 people who had each paid £30 each for a ticket, and a minibus full of people from different households travelling from Cheltenham into Wales for a walk.
Earlier, crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse said officers would be adopting a new ‘high-profile’ approach to enforcing the rules that could include stopping members of the public to ask why they are not at home.
Britain’s most senior police officer, Dame Cressida Dick, also warned that officers in London will move swiftly to fine people who blatantly ignore the regulations.
Their comments came amid confusion over the distance that members of the public are allowed to travel to exercise, with the Prime Minister sparking debate after going for a bike ride seven miles from Downing Street.
During the briefing Ms Patel herself incorrectly referred to ‘outdoor recreation’ being allowed under the rules, apparently having meant to say exercise.
Leaders of police groups called on the Government to clarify the ‘incredibly vague’ rules, which saw two women incorrectly fined for driving five miles from their Derbyshire homes to meet for a walk.
But Mr Hewitt rejected setting a specific distance that members of the public should be able to travel by law, because it would be too difficult to prove if they had broken the rules.
As a string of supermarkets pledged to get tougher with customers who refuse to wear face coverings, Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist shop staff if customers became ‘obstructive and aggressive’ when told they must wear a face covering.
Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have all outlined a stricter approach to masks in their stores.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said ministers will consider whether key workers such as police, teachers and essential shop staff should be prioritised once the most vulnerable have received the coronavirus vaccine.
Police leaders are pushing for frontline officers to get the vaccine after the highest priority groups have received their jabs.
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