Brits Could Be Fined £200 for Leaving the House Without ‘Reasonable Excuse’

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: A Police officer is seen speaking to a woman in Trafalgar Square on November 5, 2020 in London, England. England enters second national coronavirus lockdown today. People are still permitted to exercise with one other person, takeaway food is permitted but bars and restaurants are …
Peter Summers/Getty Images

Police can fine people in England £200 for leaving their house without a “reasonable excuse” after the country went into a second lockdown on Thursday.

Under the lockdown, non-essential businesses have been forced to close, and people told to go out only for essential items, such as for groceries or medicine, medical appointments, exercise, or work or school.

This means that a person cannot legally leave their home without a “reasonable excuse”, as outlined by a College of Policing document reported by The Sun.

“The list of reasonable excuses is not exhaustive, and it is key that officers exercise judgment in a case where they encounter a person with an excuse that is not included in the list of exceptions,” the document says.

Fines start at £200 but are reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days. Subsequent violations will see fines double to a maximum £6,400, with a possible conviction if unpaid.

While police have said they will try to persuade rule breakers to desist and use fines as a last resort, recent remarks from senior officers have indicated that Britons may see a return of draconian policing from the first lockdown.

Merseyside Chief Constable Andy Cooke said late last month that it was Britons’ “civic duty” to snitch on each other if suspected of having breached lockdown laws.

While the Police and Crime Commissioners for Merseyside and the West Midlands have both said that they would instruct officers to investigate if families were breaching lockdown by having relatives from other households over for Christmas dinner.

After Wales went into lockdown, which prohibited so-called ‘unnecessary travel’, English police forces said they would be putting up checkpoints along the Welsh border to stop and interrogate people leaving the country.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned that the government had gone “too far” and the powers given to police had gone beyond the concept of the public allowing policing by consent.

“We’ve gone too far, way too far, and we’ve got to stop it. We’re turning into a kind of police state.  It’s bad for the police and bad for the public. The police police by consent – this is way past consent,” Sir Iain said.

Last week, former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, who had also compared the first lockdown to a “police state”, warned that Britons were sleepwalking into totalitarian rule, and were driven by fear to accept more infringements on their freedom, remarking: “The government has discovered the power of public fear to let it get its way. It will not forget.”

Addressing the Cambridge Freshfields Annual Law Lecture, Lord Sumption said: “The British public has not even begun to understand the seriousness of what is happening to our country. Many, perhaps most of them don’t care, and won’t care until it is too late. They instinctively feel that the end justifies the means, the motto of every totalitarian government which has ever been.”

Criticising the manner in which the government had conducted its pandemic response, he said: “It marks a move to a more authoritarian model of politics which will outlast the present crisis.”

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