The National Rural Crime Network requests an “urgent review” of the latest police advisories from the National Police Chiefs ‘Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, which use examples compiled by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The notice that emerged Thursday was sent to the forces last week when some police officers did not fully understand their new powers.
It included a list of scenarios that could be considered reasonable under the coronavirus lockdown rules – such as country driving and walking, when spending much more time walking than driving, and to stop for rest or lunch during a long walk.
He also told officers that it is “legal” to drive somewhere to exercise, reports Wales Online.
But the NRCN warned that the council has created a “real risk” that more people will travel to cities, towns and rural areas.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner and president of the NRCN, said, “The main message from government and scientists is that to fight coronaviruses, we have to stay at home.
“These new guidelines go completely against this and are extremely unnecessary in our efforts in rural Britain to prevent people from reaching our communities and spreading this virus.
“Saying that individuals and families can travel long distances in the countryside has alarmed many people for whom it is their home – it has the potential to strain services in already struggling communities, expands resources from the police and even adds pressure to the NHS which works so hard to keep us all safe.
“We urgently need a review of these new guidelines and I will have discussions with ministers, the Police College, chiefs of police and my fellow commissioners in the days to come.”
The document gives more advice to officers on how to interpret lockdown restriction laws – known as Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.
When details emerged, the COP insisted that these were not “new national directions and that the messages to the public have not changed.”
Although described as a “really useful practical guide,” the examples given are not specifically set out in law under the regulations, and the document states that each case must be considered on its own.
He added: “Some public statements made shortly after the regulation was adopted suggested that members of the public could only leave their homes if they were” essential “to do so.
“However, this is not the criterion set out in the regulations and there is no legal basis for a requirement in these terms to be imposed. “
According to the document, incidents also likely to be reasonable include the purchase of luxury items and alcohol; exercise more than once a day; move to a friend’s house for several days to allow for “cooling” after arguments at home; and the purchase of repair and maintenance tools and supplies.
Incidents that are unlikely to be considered reasonable include someone who can work from home by choosing to work in a nearby park; a short walk to a park bench when the person remains seated for a much longer period; buy paint and brushes just to redecorate a kitchen; and drive for an extended period with only a short exercise.
NPCC spokesperson said, “Although nothing in the law prevents people from driving for exercise, the police and government have rightly continued to advise the public not to travel long distances in the car for exercise.
“Consequently, the forces which advised him are not out of step with the directives of the PSC.
“Officers should continue to exercise discretion and judgment in deciding what is and what is not” necessary “and” reasonable “in the circumstances, having regard to the purpose of the settlement – to prevent the transmission of infection. “