Coronavirus: Woman fined £660 for failing to give name or reasons for travel to police

Marie Dinou violated Coronavirus Act 2020 at Newcastle Central station

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 01 April 2020 13:49
Michael Gove says there must be 'no slackening' in fight against coronavirus

A woman has been fined £660 for breaking new coronavirus laws after the first arrest of its kind at a railway station.

Police said Marie Dinou, 41, was reported for “loitering between platforms” by staff at Newcastle Central station on Saturday morning.

“Officers approached Dinou and engaged with her in an attempt to understand her reasons for essential travel, but following several more attempts by officers to explain and encourage she refused to speak to officers,” a spokesperson for British Transport Police said.

“Having explored all options, Dinou was arrested on suspicion of breaching the restrictions imposed under the Coronavirus Act 2020.”

Dinou, of Oak Tree Close in York, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court on Monday.

The court imposed a £660 fine for failing to provide her identity or reasons for travel to police, and failing to comply with a requirement under the Coronavirus Act.

She was also ordered to pay a £66 victim surcharge and £85 in costs.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “Enforcement of any sort under the new regulations really is a last resort, especially arrest.

“In this case, officers tried their upmost best to engage with Dinou. I can assure you we would much rather not have to take such action.”

“We strongly urge the public to do the right thing and help us save lives by staying at home and slowing the spread of the virus.”

Under schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, it is illegal to fail to comply with the instructions of police officers without reasonable excuse, or obstruct them in the course of their duties.

Offences can be punished by fines of up to £1,000 on summary conviction in a magistrates’ court.

The separate Health Protection Regulations 2020, which came into force on Thursday, make it illegal for people to leave their homes without a “reasonable excuse”.

Police have been instructed to use enforcement as a last resort, but can fine or arrest people for breaching restrictions, refusing directions or obstructing officers or officials acting under the regulations.

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