Police ‘may get it wrong when enforcing coronavirus regulations’

Police bosses have acknowledged some officers “may get it wrong” when enforcing England’s coronavirus regulations and that people are becoming “fed up” with ongoing national lockdown restrictions.

Hardyal Dhindsa, police and crime commissioner of Derbyshire Police, said officers had a “very difficult job in really trying circumstances” due to the “ever-changing” Covid-19 restrictions.

It comes after the force handed out £200 fines to two women who drove separately to go for a walk at a remote beauty spot situated around five miles from their homes.

Mr Dhindsa said the incident “could have been dealt with differently” and that the force was “big enough to apologise” if a review found that the officers had acted in error.

“It’s no wonder that in circumstances like this, sometimes when they are trying to do the best job they can they may get it wrong,” he said, speaking on BBC Breakfast.

“Having looked at (the incident involving the two women), listening to what I know, it looks as if we might have been able to deal with it differently.

“But it’s an operational matter, I’ve asked the chief constable to review these cases and if the police acted in error, then the fines can be rescinded by them.”

When asked if police being “overzealous” could put people off complying with coronavirus restrictions, he replied: “It could be.”

But Mr Dhindsa said although there was much more traffic and activity than in the previous March lockdown, “in the main” the public were following guidance.

“If you think of the hundreds and thousands of calls to police on Covid-19, the number of fixed penalty notices given out are small,” he said.

“The problem is how are the lockdown rules and regulations in place, and the review of them is something that needs to be looked at.

“This lockdown is not the same as the lockdown that happened in March.

“If you look at traffic on our roads, it’s still quite high, because people are still going to work.”

Other police chiefs said that public confidence had dipped as people became “fed up” with ongoing lockdown restrictions.

“What’s happening is people are beginning to flout the rules, they are beginning to think, ‘How can I get away with the rules?’” said Paul Netherton, Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police.

“I can understand that but we have to be firm, we have to save lives, we have to make sure people are keeping apart, isolating and staying at home,” he told BBC Breakfast.