Woman arrested for ‘sitting on a bench’ as police get tough on lockdown rules

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Video shows a handcuffed woman being led away by four police officers after allegedly breaching coronavirus lockdown rules – by sitting on a bench.

The woman is shown protesting, shouting: "I was sitting on a bench" as she is surrounded by police.

The clip is believed to have been taken in Bournemouth, Dorset, where officers were also seen telling another woman she faced arrest if she did not provide her details.

People given Fixed Penalty Notices for breaching coronavirus rules face £200 fines, which double with each offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

It comes as police are told to get tough in order to enforce the lockdown, which came into force this week following an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases.

A furious woman filming the clip is heard branding the arrest a "disgrace", shouting at officers: "What side are you on?"

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the increasing number of new Covid-19 cases proved there was a need for "strong enforcement" in cases where people were clearly breaking the rules.

Footage shows a woman being handcuffed and led away by police
(Image: Instagram)

Yesterday the chief constable of Dorset Police launched a scathing attack on people who joined a protest against coronavirus lockdowns.

There is no suggestion that any of the people confronted by police were taking part in a protest.

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Nationally and locally the situation is dire. On Friday alone at least 68,000 people contracted the virus in the UK and tragically 1,325 people died.

“Our NHS colleagues in Dorset are struggling to cope with the demand being placed upon them and are putting themselves at risk every day to protect the lives of others.

Police have been instructed to enforce the lockdown strictly
(Image: Instagram)

Police were also seen talking to a man and a woman in the clip
(Image: Instagram)

"The number of people in Dorset’s hospitals battling coronavirus has doubled since New Year’s Eve and it is anticipated we have not yet reached the peak.

“Our county is gripped with infections and yet these irresponsible individuals have ignored what is being asked of them and have left their homes to protest. Shame on them.

“I fully appreciate the fact that under normal circumstances people have the right to protest under the Human Rights Act. Now is not that time, people are dying.

"I want the people of Dorset to know that there is no clear exemption for people to leave home to protest and it will simply not be tolerated."

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Police tactics have come in for scrutiny after Derbyshire Police 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.

A Home Office source told The Telegraph there would be a more "rapid movement to enforcement" around the issuing of £200 fines for those not following the rules.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said the guidance to "move more quickly to issuing a fine" when Covid rules were being totally disregarded had been in place since October.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has backed the clampdown on rulebreakers
(Image: REUTERS)

Amid fresh reports that police would no longer need to give repeated warnings before issuing fines, the NPCC said there was "no specific rule on the number of warnings officers should give" before dishing out a fixed penalty notice.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, told BBC Breakfast on Sunday the guidance "needs to be absolutely crystal-clear, not only for the public but also for my colleagues" and a review would be necessary after the Derbyshire incident.

Ms Patel said: "Our police officers are working tirelessly to keep us safe. Not only are they continuing to take criminals off our streets, but they are also playing a crucial role in controlling the spread of the virus.

"The vast majority of the public have supported this huge national effort and followed the rules.

"But the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules to ensure we safeguard our country's recovery from this deadly virus.

"Enforcing these rules saves lives. It is as simple as that. Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary."

The NPCC guidance, published on January 6 to reflect the latest national lockdown, states officers should still offer people "encouragement" to comply with the regulations and explain any changes.

"However if the individual or group does not respond appropriately, then enforcement can follow without repeated attempts to encourage people to comply with the law," the NPCC said.

"We police by consent. The initial police response should be to encourage voluntary compliance."

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