A WOMAN appears to have been arrested “for sitting on a bench” after cops were told to fine rule-breakers £200 following just one verbal warning.
New guidance has been issued to chief constables as part of a tough new crackdown on coronavirus lockdown flouters.
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One woman was placed in handcuffs for “sitting on a bench”
Officers also approached another woman and a man on the same seafront
A policeman talks to members of the public in Barry Island, WalesCredit: PA:Press Association
It comes amid warnings from experts that current lockdown restrictions are “too lax” – and could fail to bring down the rate of infection if Brits ignore “stay at home” orders.
“Over 1,000 people died yesterday. It is important that everyone sticks to the rules.”
Footage has now emerged showing three cops surrounding a woman for allegedly leaving her home more than once in the same day.
Meanwhile, four officers appeared to arrest a woman who claimed she was just “sitting on a bench” on the same seafront.
She was placed in handcuffs and led away from the scene.
The new guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, issued to forces on January 6, reads: “Officers should continue to engage members of the public and explain changes.
“If necessary they should offer encouragement to comply.
“However if the individual or group does not respond appropriately, then enforcement can follow without repeated attempts to encourage people to comply with the law.”
The guidance adds that officers should continue to police “by consent”, and the “initial police response should be to encourage voluntary compliance”.
Previous NPCC guidance did not specify how many attempts officers should make to encourage voluntary compliance when dealing with the public.
Anyone caught by cops without a reasonable excuse could be slapped with a £200 fixed penalty notice for their first offence, with this doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Those holding, or involved in holding, an illegal gathering of more than 30 people risk a police-issued fine of £10,000.
Brits must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces such as shops and supermarkets or face a £200 fine – though exemptions apply to children under 11 and those with certain medical conditions.
Police patrol Hyde Park as cops warned a tougher stance would be taken on those breaking lockdownCredit: London News Pictures
A police van on patrol in Hyde Park in central London on Thursday afternoonCredit: London News Pictures
Police patrol the seafront at Bournemouth Beach in DorsetCredit: w8media
Home Secretary Priti Patel last night defended cops amid concern over tougher enforcement after two women claimed they were surrounded and fined £200 each for driving five miles to walk in a park.
Derbyshire Police sparked outrage by fining Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore for walking near Foremark Reservoir.
“Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary.”
The crackdown comes amid fears that public compliance with restrictions is lower than the first lockdown in March last year, which successfully reduced the rate of infection.
Boris Johnson pleaded with Brits to stay at home after the UK passed the grim milestone of 80,000 fatalities on Saturday – with cases continuing to surge.
According to the Telegraph, ministers are hesitant to impose further restrictions but hope that tougher enforcement combined with a ‘Stay At Home’ advertising blitz, fronted by Professor Chris Whitty, will keep Brits indoors.
Meanwhile, Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, said the current lockdown was “too lax” to stop the bug from spreading.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It is definitely too lax, because if you think about it and compare ourselves with March, what do we have now?
“We have the winter season and the virus survives longer in the cold, plus people spend more time indoors and we know aerosol transmission, which happens indoors, is a very big source of transmission for this virus.
“And secondly we have this new variant which is 50-70% more infectious.
“You put those two things together, alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter rather than less strict lockdown than we had back in March.”
What you could be fined for
You could face a fine for:
- Being out of your home without a reasonable excuse as below
- Travelling abroad or going on holiday during the lockdown period – as this is not a reasonable excuse
- Breaking Covid rules by having others outside your household inside your home
- Meeting people outside your household outside – unless it’s one person for exercise alone
- Hosting a gathering – this could see you get a fine of up to £10,000
- Businesses or venues can be fined up to £10,000 too for continuing to operate despite being ordered to shut
- Not wearing a face covering on public transport or in shops
Reasonable excuses for leaving your home include:
- Work: If you have to go to work as you really can’t work from home, this will be allowed. Key workers such as those who work for the police, or NHS, will be permitted to do so
- School: only for the kids of key workers or vulnerable pupils
- Exercise: Boris will continue to allow unlimited exercise outdoors. That means people can carry on going for walks, runs and other forms of exercise outdoors if they wish. You can do that with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household
- Food, drink & supplies: People will still be allowed out to collect food and drink – such as at the supermarket, or take-aways
- Medical appointments: Everyone will be urged to continue to attend hospital and doctor appointments if they need to
- To escape injury or harm; those at risk of harm are allowed to leave their current home and move elsewhere
- To provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer: people will still be allowed to travel to care for people who need it, or attend volunteer work too