Forest of Dean Police return group of seven mountain bikers to Wales over lockdown rule violations

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Forest of Dean Police told a group of seven cyclists who were visiting a popular mountain biking center to return home to Caerphilly. Police did not say whether the men were from the same household, but the size of the group appears to violate coronavirus regulations in England. In addition, by crossing the border, cyclists are also said to have violated the laws applicable in Wales – although the police in England are not empowered to enforce them.
The Gloucestershire beauty site is maintained by Forestry England, which says on its website that people should ‘only visit one of our forests for daily exercise if it is only a short distance away. from your place.”

Forest Police, the Gloucestershire Police unit that covers the communities of Newent, Cinderford, Coleford, Lydney, Tidenham and Sedbury, confirmed on Twitter that cyclists have been asked to make the 45-mile journey to their hometown.

They said: “Officers have advised seven men who attend the Cannop Cycle Center today to return to their Caerphilly homes, if they ever find themselves in the area again during the lockdown they will be fined!”

England and Wales have separate regulations in place regarding COVID-19 restrictions.

In England, exercise outside the home can only be done:

alone,

with-

(aa) one or more members of their household, of their related household, or

bb) when the exercise is performed as part of the provision of informal child care to a child 13 years of age or under, to one or more members of their related child care home, or

in an outdoor public place, with another person who is not part of their household, related household or related child care household.

The law does not place restrictions on the distance that can be traveled to undertake an exercise, although government guidelines – which do not have the force of law – are that exercise “should be limited to once per day. , and you should not travel outside your locality. area. ”

Despite the lack of clarity in the wording of the regulations, it is clear that some police forces impose their own interpretation – evidenced by media coverage in recent days of the two women fined £ 200 each for driving five miles to get walking sanctions together as the force is currently reviewing all Fixed Sanction Notices (FPNs) it has issued, in light of directives from the National Council of Chiefs of Police (NPCC).

BBC News reports that the NPCC has “clarified the police response regarding movement and exercise.”

According to the guidelines: “The Covid regulations that officers enforce and which allow them to issue FPNs for infractions, do not limit the distance traveled for the exercise.”

The NPCC says that instead of fining people who travel outside their local area “without breaking the regulations, officers will encourage people to follow the guidelines.”

In Wales, in addition to the exercise restrictions detailed below, “In all areas with a high incidence of coronavirus elsewhere in the UK … is not allowed”, the group therefore seems to have violated this regulation.

Exercise is allowed “Either (i) alone, (ii) with other members of the person’s household or extended household, or (iii) with the person’s caregiver,” but he “must begin and end where the person lives or where a member of the person’s extended household lives. “

When Wales instituted a ‘firewall’ lockdown in October, the Independent reported that the Gloucestershire Constabulary said it would patrol the roads in England and arrest drivers in Wales, with officers asking them to turn around if their trip was not authorized under the regulations then in force. in the country.

However, the force admitted it did not have the power to enforce the laws that applied in Wales, with the newspaper claiming that the abuse of those laws by officers in England had already resulted in fines and proceedings quashed.

A Gloucestershire Police spokesperson said at the time: ‘While we cannot impose fines on those traveling from Wales to the county, we can notify the host force of those we arrest of what happened so they can take action.

“The officers will be running an operation this weekend which will cover the roads from Wales to the Forest of Dean and if we stop anyone from Wales we will engage with them to find out why, explaining the legislation and encouraging them to turn around if we are not satisfied with their explanation.

“If they do not turn around, then we will notify the force that controls the area from which they have traveled so that they can issue a fine.”

> “Stay local” – What the latest lockdown laws and guidelines mean for you and cycling



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