Police will now be 'quicker' to stop people and fine them for being outside of their home, warns Met chief
POLICE will "move quickly" to fine people for being outside of their home in breach of lockdown rules, Britain's most senior officer warned.
Met Police leader Dame Cressida Dick said it was "preposterous" people didn't know the rules and vowed to crack down on lockdown flouters.
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It comes after Derbyshire Police apologised and scrapped £200 fines handed to two women who had driven five miles to go for a walk.
Boris Johnson warned yesterday lockdown rules may be tightened again to stop Covid spreading even further.
Banning exercise with people not in the same household bubble and making masks compulsory in busy outdoor areas are said to be under consideration.
Writing in The Times, Dame Cressida said: "It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus.
"We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.
"We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging, but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action."
The Met is still using its '4Es' – Engage. Explain. Encourage. Enforce – approach to policing the Covid lockdown.
Officers stop people on the street and ask them where they are going and why they have left their home.
Dame Cressida also blasted Covid lockdown rule breakers who hold parties, meet in basements to gamble or attend unlicensed raves.
Britain's top cop slammed a "small minority" who "flagrantly ignore the rules".
Speaking this morning, she called for the definition of "local" exercise to be improved after the Prime Minister was pictured cycling seven miles from his Downing Street home.
Dame Cressida said: "That is certainly something the Government could consider, absolutely."
Meanwhile, Britain's policing minister Kit Malthouse accused people of "searching for loopholes in the law" to flout the lockdown.
He urged Brits to consider if they should meet a pal for a coffee and said they shouldn't go to the supermarket without a mask, with flouters facing police fines.
Mr Malthouse said: "We are trying to strike a balance between maintaining compliance with the rules and elements of public consent to what's happening.
"Where there are unreasonable people who are breaking that rule, police are intervening."
Last week, Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, both 27, were fined after driving a ten minutes to Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire.
Police accused them of enjoying a picnic as they were drinking takeaway peppermint tea, but overturned the fines yesterday.
It comes as police chiefs said they won't fine shoppers for not wearing masks in supermarkets.
Yesterday, Morrisons and Sainsbury's announced they will ban shoppers who refused to wear face masks in their stores.
It's thought face coverings could be made compulsory in busy public places such as supermarket queues, but some top cops have said they wouldn't enforce it.
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth said this morning: "We just don't have the resources to stand at every supermarket".
Another senior police leader told The Guardian: "We won't be doing that."
They added: "Do people really want the police telling you: 'That's not above your nose'?
"There are no extra officers. Everything else [crime] is still happening. Where is the greater risk: do you put two people in a supermarket not wearing masks before a woman suffering domestic violence?
We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines
"You need clearer, consistent messaging, not new rules and more enforcement."
A chief constable added: "I don't think we need additional powers, I need additional clarity about the exceptions, about how far people can travel."
Another senior police source told The Guardian: "The government wants to see more enforcement but that will not regulate behaviour.
"There is no way the 40,000 officers you can deploy can enforce regulations on 65 million people if they do not want to follow."
Sainsbury's will order security guards to enforce mask laws as well as make sure people are not shopping in groups.
Morrisons will stop customers from going inside without a face covering unless they are medically exempt as part of tougher restrictions.
As part of the rules, customers who arrive at Morrisons stores without a face mask will be offered one free of charge by staff.
If they then refuse to wear one, they won’t be allowed to enter stores.
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