Police urge public to 'really consider their actions' after series of Covid rule breaches

12 January 2021, 07:27 | Updated: 12 January 2021, 14:59

Ingleborough is the second-highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales
Ingleborough is the second-highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Police have urged people to "really consider their actions" after one force handed out more than 70 fines for Covid regulation breaches and rescued two "ill-equipped" walkers from a mountain summit.

North Yorkshire Police said the couple, a man and a woman from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, were "incredibly fortunate" not to have been injured after they got into difficulty in poor weather at the summit of Ingleborough on Sunday.

The force said officers also had to turn away numerous out-of-area visitors who had come "for a drive" or "to look at the snow", were called to several house parties and handed out dozens of fixed penalty notices.

Read more: Fines 'increasingly likely' for Covid rule breakers, Met Police Commissioner warns

A spokesman said the pair contacted police at 4.30pm on Sunday after they lost their way due to failing light and low-lying fog, ice and snow and were brought to safety by the Cave Rescue Organisation.

Superintendent Mike Walker said: "This couple were incredibly fortunate to have come through this experience without injury and be able to tell the tale.

Officer responds to those fearing police are trying to curtail freedom

"We very clearly advised members of the public this weekend to stay at home and when taking exercise, stay local to stop the spread of Covid.

"Quite simply driving miles and miles, out of your village, town or city to visit an open space is not a necessary journey and is not acceptable.

"Neither is arriving at a challenging walking location, inexperienced and unprepared in treacherous weather conditions.

"By making an irresponsible and ill-informed decision, the safety of others, such as the Cave Rescue Organisation volunteers, is also put in jeopardy and if any injury resulted, pressure upon already stretched NHS resources."

Mr Walker said officers in the Craven district had been "run off their feet" speaking to visitors and encouraging them to return home, while several house parties had taken place in Scarborough.

He said officers had issued more than 70 fixed penalty notices for Covid breaches across the county at the weekend.

He said: "I would ask people to really consider their actions and the decisions they are making."

John Apter: Police are 'the villains' amid Covid fines row

He added: "Please think carefully about your actions and ensure you do not put yourself or others at risk or add any more pressure to already stretched emergency services."

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: "The rules and regulations are already very clear but there is a significant minority who seem to think they don't apply to them."

She added: "I fully support North Yorkshire Police's approach, which has always been to ask and engage with enforcement only as a last resort.

"But I am clear, if they find blatant breaches of the law, they are absolutely right to take action.

"The vaccines being rolled out give us hope for the future but, for now, each and every one of us needs to take responsibility for protecting our NHS and saving lives."

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