People attempting to flee Leicester amid the local lockdown could face fines, police have warned.
Amid widespread confusion about how the new rules will work, it has emerged that officers will issue fines — believed to be up to £100 — as a last resort for those who breach the coronavirus restrictions in the Midlands city.
Nottinghamshire Police said it would be working with British Transport Police to ensure people are not leaving on trains from Leicester to visit Nottingham. Anyone spotted travelling out of Leicester will be stopped and asked to return home, with financial penalties issued as a ‘last resort’.
Craig Guildford, chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, said his officers will also be working with Leicestershire Police, with any intelligence of minibuses or coaches coming into the city being stopped.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock blamed a coronavirus spike in Leicester for reimplementing strict lockdown measures in the city and some of the surrounding areas.
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The restrictions could be in place for the next two weeks.
Lord Bach, the local police and crime commissioner, claimed local forces were being ‘drip-fed’ vital information and there had been minimal guidance from the government on enforcement.
He told The Times: ‘Amazingly we were not even provided with a map of the area until well after the announcement. That has now been issued but, unfortunately, we received minimal guidance regarding practical implementation at the time the measures were imposed.
‘I have a great deal of sympathy with the agencies charged with delivery. They needed clarity from the start, and I am astonished that it is being drip-fed as the day progresses.’
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised that other local areas like Nottingham could see a surge in Leicester residents over the weekend as the city’s pubs and bars start reopening.
Mr Guildford said there is no intelligence to suggest this will be the case and believes people will remain responsible.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: ‘We will be offering education and fines as a last resort.
‘There will be the odd person who does not want to be locked down and fancies a day out in Nottingham. We are not anticipating a rise of people from Leicester.’
He continued: ’I think if it goes on there will be that potential but it is a short term lockdown for Leicester but I do not anticipate that being an initial problem.’
‘I think most people in Leicester will respect that and it has been put in place for a reason.’
Mr Hancock has advised people from Leicester to stay at home as much as they can while the local lockdown measures continue.
Dave Stokes, chairman of the Leicestershire Police Federation, added that the practicalities of how the local lockdown would work were ‘still emerging’.
He told The Times: ‘It’s essential we get clarity from the government as soon as possible… if the guidance and messaging from government is confusing for the public then it will be almost impossible for our colleagues to police.
‘We have seen examples from across the country that “common sense” is impossible to police.’
Leicester City Council say that 3,216 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Leicester since the start of the pandemic.
Of these, 944 cases were reported in the last two weeks.
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