Priti Patel defends police over use of Covid-19 lockdown fines

9 January 2021, 22:01

Priti Patel has defended how police have used Covid-19 fines
Priti Patel has defended how police have used Covid-19 fines. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Home Secretary has defended how police have handed out fines over alleged lockdown breaches, saying there is a "need for strong enforcement".

Priti Patel's support comes as Covid fines given by Derbyshire Police are now being reviewed after officers "surrounded" two women who were out for a walk at a remote reservoir.

The pair were each handed £200 fines after they each drove separately to go for a walk at a remote beauty spot situated around five miles from their homes, in a move that has been branded "bonkers".

One of the would-be walkers, Jessica Allen, told the BBC that officers also informed her that a hot drink she had brought with her was not allowed as it was "classed as a picnic".

West Mercia Police also tweeted on Friday that people in Shropshire should be aware that having a snowball fight was "obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house" and warned that such frolicking in the cold weather was "likely to result" in a £200 fine for breaking the lockdown rules.

But despite former police chiefs arguing there had been "damage done" to public trust by Derbyshire Constabulary's actions, Ms Patel praised efforts by officers to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

Ex-Durham Police chief constable Mike Barton told BBC Breakfast that "for the public to comply with the law, they have got to think and see the police are acting fairly".

Read more: UK Covid-19 death toll passes 80,000

Read more: 16 arrested during anti-lockdown protest in south London

Ms Patel said: "Our police officers are working tirelessly to keep us safe. 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."

Her comments follow a report in the Daily Telegraph suggesting ministers are considering a "tough crackdown" to pressure more Britons to stay at home following record daily coronavirus death figures being reported on Thursday.