A Staffordshire Police officer has issued more advice to help clear up some of the confusion around the rules on travelling to exercise in lockdown.
In the county, the force’s message to residents from day one has been to take daily exercise close to their homes and to avoid driving to beauty spots.
But there has been some confusion around the regulations issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which states driving to the countryside for walks – where more time is spent walking than in the car – is ‘likely to be reasonable’.
According to the NPCC, driving to exercise is lawful however it is down to the individual police forces to make a judgment on what is a ‘reasonable excuse’ to do so.
As such, Chief Inspector Mark Thorley, commander of the Staffordshire Moorlands policing team, took to social media to clarify what is being asked of residents and those thinking of travelling to the county from elsewhere.
Chief Inspector Thorley said: “I just want to give some clarity around travelling to take exercise. Staffordshire Police’s and my own message has not changed throughout this lockdown period.
“There has been no relaxation of the laws, there has been no change in the guidelines. What we’re asking is that you take your daily exercise close to home.
“Now is not the time to be travelling out to rural beauty spots to walk your dog take a picnic and certainly not to go camping.
“Myself and the rest of the officers in Staffordshire will continue to be reasonable, continue to use our discretion and will only enforce where really, really necessary.
“But I need you to work with us to help us to do that. The majority of people are getting it right, I walk round Leek town centre every day, I walk round Biddulph and Cheadle quite frequently and what I see there is people getting it right.
“The only queues I see are for banks and pharmacies and shops. I see social distancing taking place.”
The message comes after a couple were issued fixed penalty notices after camping out in the Staffordshire Moorlands following a trip from Harrogate via Wigan.
Chief Inspector Thorley added: “I wanted to do another video to give some further clarity around travelling to take exercise.
“I planned to do this in one of the locations we’ve been finding people travelling to over the last few days, but no sooner than as I got there – a beautiful layby with breathtaking views of the hills – did I come across a car with two adults in, a male and a female.
“To cut a very long story short, essentially yesterday they had travelled from Harrogate to Wigan and then from Wigan to the Staffordshire Moorlands where they camped overnight in their car in the layby.
“I don’t think anyone would reasonably class that as being necessary or being in line with the guidelines to stay at home and minimise the time you spend away from home.
“Both of those people have been issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching the coronavirus legislation.
“Please, all these beautiful locations – like The Roaches and Cannock Chase – they’ll be here when all this is finished so please work with us and together we can get back to normal as soon as possible.
“And remember, the overriding message is stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS.”
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