Police Chief Who Stalked Dog Walkers with Drones During Lockdown Retires

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The chief of an English police force that became the most criticised and mocked in the United Kingdom over its heavy-handed enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown rules is retiring.

Police Chief Constable Peter Goodman had authorised Derbyshire Police officers to pour black dye into a body of water in a beauty spot in Buxton in late March “to make the water look less appealing” to visitors.

That same week, Derbyshire Police used drones to spy on walkers taking exercise in the wide and remote Peak District. Proudly sharing the footage on social media, the force shamed British citizens, saying in captions over the footage: “Walking your dog in the Peak District: not essential”; “Going for a walk, miles from home: not essential”; “Driving to a beauty spot for a stroll: not essential”.

Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, QC, had likened the actions of the regional force to those of a “police state”.

“I have to say that the behaviour of Derbyshire Police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to travel to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the fells, so people don’t want to go there is frankly disgraceful.

“This is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority, and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes,” Lord Sumption had said at the time.

Goodman had defended his policing techniques, claiming that the government’s guidelines on how to enforce the lockdown were “unclear”.

Mr Goodman has 32 years’ experience in policing and 13 of those working in Derbyshire as part of the chief officer team. On Wednesday, he announced that after three years in the top job, he would be retiring in July, according to The Times.

He said in a statement: “It has been my privilege and pleasure to lead Derbyshire Constabulary and I am very proud to have been part of such a hardworking and dedicated organisation.

“I have seen many changes during my career, in particular, the change in crime trends. Technology now plays a large part in crime, and I have been lucky enough to be involved in the work that is happening nationally to tackle this as the national lead for cybercrime and serious and organised crime.

“I am extremely proud of the work that officers and staff do day-in-day-out, most of it going unsung. The dedication to keeping the communities of Derbyshire safe is second to none by all members of the force, and I know that this will continue.”

Derbyshire Police has insisted, according to BirminghamLive, that there is no link between the criticisms levelled against the outgoing police chief and the timing of his retirement.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced this week a review of all charges, convictions, and sentences under the coronavirus act after several reports of wrongful convictions. Politicians and civil liberties groups have criticised British forces for their draconian policing and crackdown on citizens’ free movement about the country.

Last month, a Lancashire Police officer was suspended after footage revealed he had threatened a person with the power to “make something up” to arrest him.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has warned against the UK being “remoulded into a police state” through the government’s emergency coronavirus legislation, saying that he feared “the arbitrary powers now given to the police may remain in place for a long time to come. Why? Because I can envisage the argument being advanced by the police that many of their powers must be retained in case another pandemic strikes.”

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