Coronavirus: Police issue lockdown fines less than 24 hours after being given powers

27 March 2020, 12:53

Police across parts of the country have been stopping motorists to ensure their journey is considered essential
Police across parts of the country have been stopping motorists to ensure their journey is considered essential. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Police officers across the country have begun issuing fines to people caught breaking lockdown rules less than a day after the new laws came into effect.

The National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) confirmed on Friday that fines had been handed out, and said it would provide more details at further notice.

These new powers, which came into effect on Thursday at 1pm, could see people hit with a £60 fine for a first offence, and will continue to double for every offence thereafter.

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The initial fine can be halved if it is paid within 14 days of being given, while those who don't pay up could be taken to court.

It comes as a new measure to ensure people stay at home and do not travel outside of their household unless absolutely necessary.

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Police officers now have the power to tell people to go home, leave a particular area, and can disperse any groups formed using "reasonable force, if necessary".

As the laws came into effect on Thursday, officers were seen in parts of the country conducting vehicle checks to ensure non-essential travel was being avoided.

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Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police were criticised for its use of drones to watch over people breaking the rules.

It released video showing people walking the Curbar Edge area of the Peak District, and reminded them that travelling to remote areas was not deemed "essential".

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In response to criticism, Superintendent Steve Pont told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the force wanted to "reinforce" the message to stay home, and to dissuade people from finding "loopholes".

He added: "The point is that the Government legislation said if you go out to take exercise, you should make your time away from home as short as possible, it didn't say as short as possible unless you want to go for a drive in the Peak District."