‘Police were accused of an ‘over the top’ response to the UK’s unprecedented coronavirus lockdown today as it emerged they have set up road blocks to stop and quiz drivers on a whim and even chased dog walkers and ramblers with drones in the Peak District.
Officers were this afternoon given sweeping new powers to arrest people who go on ‘non essential’ journeys and ignore Boris Johnson’s plea to ‘stay at home’ for the next three weeks.
Those who defy tough restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and £120 for a second offence reaching £1,000-plus for repeat offenders, the Home Office warned today.
After a spate of coughing and spitting attacks on police officers and paramedics, deliberately spreading coronavirus will now be treated as a serious assault punishable with a jail term of up to two years.
But as the new powers emerged, Derbyshire Police took the extraordinary step of using one of its drones to film dog walkers, ramblers and a group posing for Instagram pictures on a cliff top at sunset last night – highlighting their movements and accusing them of making an ‘unessential’ trip.
Using the unmanned aircraft they also gathered number plates from parked cars and traced their owners to their homes in Sheffield saying: ‘Walking your dog in the Peak District: Not essential.’
The government has said those in self-isolation are allowed to leave the house for one form of exercise a day – a walk, run or cycle alone or with other members of your household. Dog owners are allowed to walk their pets, but groups of more than two people are not allowed.
The advice has proven problematic for those in built-up areas whose only nearby green-space is a park shared by thousands of others looking to exercise at the same time.
A Derbyshire Police spokesman said: ‘Travelling to remote areas of the #PeakDistrict for your exercise is not essential travel. PLEASE, #StayHomeSaveLives. Daily exercise should be taken locally to your home. Under government guidance all travel is limited to essential travel only’.’
Read More: Get back in your homes! Now police erect CHECKPOINTS and follow dog walkers with drones as officers get sweeping new powers to decide if your journeys are ‘essential’ and ARREST anyone flouting lockdown