Coronavirus Lockdown: Police Directives Give “Reasonable Apologies” for Getting Out

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A police car near two people with a baby carriage sitting on a bench

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PA Media

Police have been asked to ban people from “working at home” in the parks or sitting on a public bench for long periods of time.

According to instructions given to officers in England, none of these activities is likely to be a “reasonable excuse” for someone to leave their home during the lockdown.

But advice from police chiefs and trainers suggests that people can go to a friend’s house for a period of “after-argument at home.”

He says such movements must be “authentic” and “measured in days, not hours”.

The three-page document, entitled “What constitutes a reasonable excuse to leave where you live”, is designed to help police apply the emergency restrictions that came into force three weeks ago and need to be extended.

It was produced by the National Police Chiefs ‘Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, and appears to be from directives issued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

But that has not been made public before – and suggests that some police officers have applied the rules incorrectly.

Regulations state that households can go out if there is a “reasonable excuse”, such as buying essential items, providing medical aid and exercising.

The guidance explains what is “likely to be reasonable” for each of the key categories.

He says buying food for several days, including “luxury items and alcohol,” is likely to be reasonable.

“It is not necessary that all of a person’s purchases are basic food items; the purchase of snacks and luxury items is still allowed, “he said.

Northamptonshire chief of police Nick Adderley backed down last week after threatening that his agents would start looking into people’s carts and baskets if they continued to break the rules.

He also says that people are not allowed to buy paint and brushes “just to redecorate a kitchen” but can buy tools and supplies to fix a fence “damaged by recent bad weather”.

Exercise instructions

During the exercise, the guide indicates that driving in the countryside for a walk is “reasonable” if “much more time” is spent walking than driving.

But he adds that it is unreasonable to drive for an “extended period with only a short exercise”.

This would seem to indicate that someone who drove for an hour to a place of beauty for a walk would not be breaking the rules.

Under the leadership, the police are advised not to intervene if people stop for rest or lunch during a long walk, but short walks to sit on a park bench are not allowed.

“A very short period of” exercise “to excuse a long period of inactivity can mean that the person is not engaged in” exercise “but is doing something else,” said the guide.

The document also states that anyone can go to work if it is not “reasonably possible” to work from their home. However, he says homeworkers are not allowed to “choose” to work in a park.

The College of Policing said the information was released to the military before Easter weekend.

“It was designed to help officers stay consistent with their criminal justice colleagues,” added a spokesperson.

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