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Derbyshire police scrap £200 lockdown fines given to women who went for walk
11 January 2021, 18:43
Police have scrapped lockdown fines handed to two women who'd met at a reservoir for a walk in Derbyshire last week.
The pair say they were surrounded by officers after driving 5 miles separately to Foremark Reservoir.
Derbyshire Police's Chief Constable says they've said sorry to both women - and ever-changing guidance can lead to errors.
The two women received £200 fixed penalty notices after travelling to a reservoir for a walk around five miles from their homes.
The force's chief constable Rachel Swann said: "I can confirm that a review into fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued by my officers last week has been completed.
"Two fixed penalty notices that were handed to two women who had travelled to Foremark Reservoir on Thursday have been withdrawn and we have notified the women directly, apologising for any concern caused.
"I support the fact that the officers were trying to encourage people to stay local to prevent the spread of the virus. This is a responsibility for all of us.
"All of our FPNs issued in conjunction with the Covid guidance are subject to review. Having received clarification of the guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) on Friday, these FPNs as well as a small number of others issued, were reviewed in line with that latest advice, and so it is right that we have taken this action.
"We have been working hard to understand the ever-changing guidance and legislation and to communicate this to our officers in a way that makes it clear what is the right course of action to take."
Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner of Derbyshire Police, said officers "may get it wrong" when handing out fines to lockdown rule-breakers and that a recent incident in the county could have been dealt with differently.
His comments come after the force handed out £200 fines to two women who drove separately to go for a walk at a remote beauty spot situated around five miles from their homes.
He said officers had a "very difficult job in really trying circumstances", with the "ever-changing" Covid-19 restrictions.
He said: "It's no wonder that in circumstances like this, sometimes when they are trying to do the best job they can they may get it wrong."
When asked whether it was wrong, he said: "Having looked at it, listening to what I know, it looks as if that we might've have been able to deal with it differently.
"But it's an operational matter, I've asked the chief constable to review these cases and if the police acted in error, then the fines can be rescinded by them."
He said if an error was found to be made then the police force "was big enough" to apologise.