English police at Welsh border stop 20 drivers on day one of lockdown

English police who took it upon themselves to patrol Welsh border on first day of ‘fire break’ lockdown stopped 20 drivers in Gloucestershire including three from Wales who had ignored Covid rules – despite having no jurisdiction over them

  • Gloucestershire Police patrolled Forest of Dean last Friday during two-hour slot
  • They focused on vehicles towing caravans, motorhomes and vehicles with bikes amid concerns they were visiting tourist beauty spots
  • Drivers urged to return to Wales if officers ‘not satisfied with their explanation’
  • If they refuse, police can tell forces in Wales, who can issue fines; those caught breaking rules in Wales can be fined up to £10,000; penalties start at £60 

English police stopped 20 drivers in Gloucestershire on the first day of Wales’s ‘fire break’ lockdown – despite not having the power to fine those who break First Minister Mark Drakeford’s Covid rules, it has been revealed.

Three of the motorists who were stopped last Friday during a police operation in the Forest of Dean were from Wales and had ignored coronavirus restrictions.

The Gloucestershire police patrol took place during a two-hour slot and focused on vehicles towing caravans, motorhomes and vehicles with bikes amid concerns they were visiting tourist beauty spots around the county. 

The force said it would stop motorists travelling into England to find out what they were doing – and drivers would be encouraged to turn around and head back to Wales if officers ‘are not satisfied with their explanation’, a spokesman said. 

If they refuse, police will tell forces in Wales so that they can issue fines. People caught breaking the rules in Wales can be fined up to £10,000, with penalties starting at £60.

English police stopped 20 drivers in Gloucestershire on the first day of Wales’s ‘fire break’ lockdown. Three of the motorists who were stopped last Friday during a police operation in the Forest of Dean were from Wales and had ignored coronavirus restrictions. (File image)

The lockdown, which began at 6pm on October 23, ends on November 9. It bars people from leaving their homes except for exercise, buying essential supplies or providing care. Above, the A470 southbound yesterday in Cardiff, Wales

Can English police fine drivers coming across from Wales during lockdown?

English police forces – from Herefordshire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire – are encouraging any drivers they spot from Wales to turn back if officers ‘are not satisfied with their explanation’.

If they refuse, police will inform forces in Wales so they can issue fines.

People caught breaking the rules in Wales can be fined up to £10,000, with penalties starting at £60.

The ban, which came into force at 6pm on Friday, also makes it an offence to travel to Wales from coronavirus hotspots in the UK. 

However, the Police Federation of England and Wales has revealed the ban is ‘unenforceable’, adding policing which is ‘already over-stretched due to the pandemic’ would be complicated by the measure. 

The lockdown, which began at 6pm on Friday, October 23, includes the half-term holiday and covers two weeks, ending on Monday November 9. 

It bars people from leaving their homes except for exercise, buying essential supplies or providing care – under First Minister Mark Drakeford’s ‘power-mad’ orders. 

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police told MailOnline today: ‘Around 20 vehicles were stopped during police activity in the Forest of Dean last Friday and, of those, three motorists who had travelled from Wales were spoken to about Covid restrictions.

‘We must stress that we are not conducting proactive operations to assist other force areas in enforcing Covid-19 legislation.

‘This operation related to issues in the Forest of Dean, in particular, rural crime, burglary and increased numbers of tourists visiting beauty spots.

‘A particular area of concern for local residents has been increased numbers of cyclists to the Cannop area, causing congestion and making social distancing more difficult.

‘Part of our operational activity therefore included a two-hour period on Friday where vehicles towing caravans, motorhomes and vehicles with bikes were pulled over to be spoken to regarding Covid restrictions, including travel restrictions if applicable.

‘Where our officers encounter someone who lives in an area that has travel restrictions and doesn’t have a reasonable cause, they will engage with that person, explain the legislation and encourage them to return home. 

‘At that point, if necessary, we will consider reporting information back to the relevant force area. 

Despite differing rules in England under the three-tiered system, police forces in the other border counties of Herefordshire and Shropshire have also promised to set up their own stops to question drivers leaving the Principality.

Depsite the restrictions, drivers have been seen since Friday crossing the border on the A494 at Queensferry and on the A5445 between Chester and Wrexham.

Traffic on the A55 at Broughton, in Flintshire, Wales, flows freely across the border from England to Wales. (Above, on the first day of the supposed travel ban from a high-Covid area)

A Welsh supermarket in lockdown, as seen on Monday – with non-essential items sectioned off under First Minister Mark Drakeford’s corona rules

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: ‘While we cannot issue fines to those travelling from Wales into the county we can inform the host force of those we stop about what has happened so they can take action.’ 

First Minister Mark Drakeford has threatened to use number plate recognition cameras to fine English drivers crossing into his country.

His call was echoed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has threatened to roll-out a similar travel ban across Scotland to stop people travelling from virus hotspots in England.

But the Police Federation of England and Wales has revealed the ban is ‘unenforceable’, adding policing which is ‘already over-stretched due to the pandemic’ would be complicated by the measure. 

Welsh ‘fire break’ lockdown rules – and how infections have changed

Supermarkets can sell only ‘essential items’

Pubs and restaurants closed

Only leave the house to shop for food, medicine or take exercise

Household mixing banned indoors and outdoors

Most secondary school children will stay at home

Work from home wherever possible

Wear face masks indoors and on public transport

How have infections in Wales changed?

Wales has pulled the trigger on a 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown after average daily infections more than tripled in a month.

The rolling seven-day average, considered the most accurate measure of outbreaks because it takes into account day-to-day fluctuations, was 238 on September 23.

It currently stands at 894, analysis of Public Health Wales figures reveal.

The weekly rate of infections per 100,000 in Wales has also jumped by nearly a quarter in a week.

It currently stands at 199.2, having risen from 160.6 last Friday.

The rate of 199.2 per 100,000 is considerably higher than Scotland’s 161.2 but still below England’s 213.6.

Northern Ireland – which has the smallest population in the UK, at 1.8million – has the highest rate of the home nations, at 378.6.

To get a sense of how fast Wales’ crisis has been growing, it was recording just 3.7 cases per 100,000 a week in August, the lowest in the UK.

The nation’s 761 new cases today takes the number of confirmed cases to 40,253.

A quarter of these were recorded in the last fortnight.

Since September 11 there have been 10,625 cases – though the true figure is thought to be much higher because so many people are asymptomatic or do not get tested.

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