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Police to review lockdown penalties after two friends are given £200 fines for meeting at reservoir

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3-min read
Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore were stopped by police as they drove into the entrance of Foremark Reservoir (Reach)
Jessica Allen (L) and Eliza Moore were stopped by police as they drove into the entrance of Foremark Reservoir (Reach)

Two women who were fined £200 after meeting at a reservoir this week have welcomed a police review of lockdown penalties.

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, both 27, said they were surrounded by officers when they arrived separately in cars at Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire on Wednesday.

The pair believed they were following the guidelines of staying local to exercise as they only live 10 minutes away in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire.

But they were left stunned when they were given fines for breaching lockdown rules.

Jessica Allen (L) and Eliza Moore did not think they did anything wrong (swns)
Jessica Allen (L) and Eliza Moore did not think they did anything wrong (swns)

Derbyshire Police have now agreed to review fines they hand out after initially saying the pair had not acted in the spirit of the rules when they drove to the location.

Allen told the BBC: "We are happy to hear that Derbyshire Police have been told to not be so heavy-handed with fines and return to the Four Es they were originally doing.

"We are yet to hear anything regarding our fine but if we have managed to save somebody the worry of going for a walk and fearing they would be fined then we have done what we set out to do."

Allen said she assumed “someone had been murdered” when she arrived at the beauty spot due to the number of police there.

“The next thing, my car is surrounded,” she said.

“I got out of my car thinking 'There's no way they're coming to speak to us'. Straight away they start questioning us.

“One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking 'This must be a joke'.”

The two friends have welcomed a review of their fine (swns)
The two friends have welcomed a review of their fine (swns)

Allen said she tried to explain they had come in separate cars, parked two spaces from each other and even brought their own drinks with them.

Moore, who works as cabin crew for British Airways and runs a make-up business, said she was left "stunned" by the fine.

She added: "Just seeing a police officer anyway is quite scary for some people and we were really not expecting to be approached and to be told we were doing something wrong.

"We don't want to get away with it if we have broken the rule, but it seems a bit unfair that you can be fined on something that's so vague."

They also claim an officer told them their two peppermint teas purchased from Starbucks - were classed “as a picnic", which also breached COVID guidelines.

The entrance to the Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire (swns)
The entrance to the Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire (swns)

Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise as long as it is in their "local area".

But the legislation does not specify a maximum distance that people are allowed to travel.

Derbyshire Police initially defended the decision to fine the women but later said it would re-evaluate penalties, pointing to new National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) guidance which said: "The Covid regulations which officers enforce and which enables them to issue FPNs [fixed penalty notices] for breaches, do not restrict the distance travelled for exercise."

Police forces across the country have been ramping up efforts to crackdown on coronavirus lockdown flouters due to concern over the level of public compliance with current regulations, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Home secretary Priti Patel, defended the tougher approach when asked whether police would question people sat on park benches during the lockdown.

"It's right that police act robustly," she told BBC Radio 4.

Watch: Data shows people have become accustomed to breaking the rules