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Derbyshire police droning on

Drones are fun. I understand that. But people do need to use them responsibly.

The BBC reports: Coronavirus: Peak District drone police criticised for ‘lockdown shaming’

Derbyshire Police filmed people in pairs rambling in the Curbar Edge area of the beauty spot on Wednesday.

In pairs. Not mobs, pairs.

Officers said travelling to remote areas for exercise did not count as “essential travel” as permitted under government lockdown rules.

But travelling to remote areas and flying your drones there, that’s essential.

UK civil liberties group Big Brother Watch branded the move “sinister” and “counter-productive”.

The 90-second clip, shot by the force’s drone unit, showed people walking their dogs and taking photos.

It said “the message is still not getting through” about stopping the spread of coronavirus, despite government guidance and several police posts.

One Twitter user called it “the worst kind of nanny policing” while others pointed out that the walkers were away from crowds.

Here is the tweet in question. I am glad there was some pushback. This response from “miroirdufou” was polite but effective:

Hi. Please explain (in terms of epidemiology) exactly what harm these people are doing, taking quiet exercise away from crowds, in small numbers? And if they’re doing no harm, leave them alone?

27 comments to Derbyshire police droning on

  • bobby b

    Even snitchy hall monitors need jobs. Beginning to understand why y’all don’t let your cops carry weapons.

  • Mr Ecks

    They carry a great many weapons including the American electric torture toy that they use with abandon.

    No shooters. Prob because braining some bluebottle and getting his shooter would not be too difficult if the average idiot Plod carried one.

  • Well, anyone wondering how they could possibly top that, should wonder no more:


    “Instagram Police, sonny! You got a licence for that Snapchat filter?”

  • bobby b

    As a too-late-to-edit addendum to my comment of 12:24 above:

    But maybe I’m being unfair to the individuals employed as cops in these stories. If the PTB decide on a policy, and also you wish to keep being paid, you end up a tool of that policy. Which is really what they’re paying you for. Fairer to blame those making policy.

  • Phil B

    @bobby b – March 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Two things:

    1) They are only obeying orders. That excuse did not work at Nuremberg in 1946, does not hold water now on something far less serious. The SS rank and file concentration camp guards were actually operating under the laws that had been passed by the Reichstag but that was not held as an excuse and were punished accordingly.

    2) If they do not like their jobs and enforcing these stupid orders then they can resign and do something else. If not, then they are worse than prostitutes who at least give fair service for their cash. They are prostituting their consciences and moral foundations for cash. I now which is more corrosive to the moral and ethics of the individual.

    No, these people like the authority and power. For example, the Police officer threatening that shopkeeper over chalk on the pavement. If he did not agree with the enforcement of the particular law, he had the option to look away and use his discretion. There is sufficient real vandalism and graffiti for him to pursue and arrest those vandals for doing REAL damage and harm to property but the easy “pinch” is preferred.

    Give these petty dictators any sort of power and they will misuse it.






  • Patrick Crozier

    A few points:

    None of the people on the video are breaking the law.

    There is just about an argument about large numbers of people congregating in the Peak District and small groups leading to large groups. A similar argument is being made to justify closing Richmond Park in London to cyclists. Except that I spent the best part of an hour cycling round Richmond Park on Friday and I didn’t see any large groups. I think they’re making it up.

    The dyeing of that lake is long-standing (something to do with alkalinity and discouraging people from using it.

  • Pat

    It would be interesting to see footage of police in inner cities, where of course social distancing is far.harder, and where certain sections of society distrust the police anyway.

  • Ian

    I think the rot set in when police forces started putting up speed camera signs where there were no speed cameras and where they had no intention of using speed cameras just to “nudge” people into staying below the speed limit. That was an expression of an us-v-them mentality which I don’t think existed before, except in regard to their attitude towards genuine villains. I’m reminded of the Robert Peel quote:

    The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    The stats are alarmingly clear, that the public has given up believing the police will investigate, or are capable of investigating, crimes like burglary and mugging (with honourable exceptions in some constabularies). At the same time, they’re painting their panda cars rainbow colours and male officers are going around wearing high heels on duty. Taking advantage of the coronavirus to “shame” apparently law-abiding members of the public just gives the impression that they think themselves our betters.

    Also, by the way, these are probably DJI drones which send all location data back to China, and possibly other data too.

  • Roué le Jour

    The police have a long standing preference for harassing the law abiding rather than people who might riot or stick a shotgun in their faces. Are travellers still traveling, I wonder? Are the diversity cowering in place as instructed?

  • When I urged that police enforcing the lockdown be drawn as much as possible from those who would otherwise be enforcing ‘hate-speech’ laws and not from those who prefer instead to pursue burglars, murderers and all between, I should of course have noted the inevitable side-effect that petty and pointless over-enforcement, even in this process’ own terms, would be perpetrated.

  • Ed Turnbull

    This quote from Gilliam’s wonderful film 12 Monkeys seems apposite:

    “This part isn’t about the virus. It’s about following orders, about doing what you’re told”.

    And, in this context, I’m referring to the public having to follow their orders. I’m not trying to excuse the over zealous Plod. After all, as Phil B notes above, the ‘Nuremberg defence’ didn’t hold any water at Nuremberg, and it shouldn’t in the UK in 2020.

  • APL

    “Officers said travelling to remote areas for exercise did not count as “essential travel” as permitted under government lockdown rules.”

    But they are more than two meters from anyone else.

  • APL

    Derbyshire police: “Despite posts yesterday highlighting issues of people still visiting the #PeakDistrict despite government guidance … ”

    So only guidance. Or is that the latest example of Newspeak?

  • bobby b

    Here’s a letter sent by the Chicago Police Union to the City protesting how the mayor is making the cops into the bad guys by forcing the cops to enforce dumb overzealous new distancing rules.

    (Putting this here just to make the point that it’s not always the cops causing the problems.)

  • Stonyground

    That letter is very interesting, and quite a contrast from our lot in the UK. I have considered our police to be the bad guys for a long time to be honest. Their behaviour over the last few days has more than confirmed that my low opinion of them was correct. Cowardly stupid moronic bullies.

  • NickM

    Derbyshire Police are gits. Look at this. They seem Hell-bent on having a nice day out in The Peaks (just down the road from me) without the rest of us. Selfish cunts.

  • Duncan S

    From Wikipedia

    A quarry lake (53.2336°N 1.9043°W) at the site became a tourist attraction owing to its vivid turquoise-blue coloration.[5] It is the only such “blue lagoon” in the country and has attracted visitors from across the country.[5][6] The colour derives from the scattering of light by small particles of calcium carbonate that are precipitating within the water.[2] The caustic quicklime dissolved in the water gives it a pH level of 11.3 (by comparison bleach has a pH of 12.3).[6]

    Signs at the site say the water can cause “skin and eye irritations, stomach problems and fungal infections such as thrush” and that the quarry is known to contain car wrecks, dead animals, excrement and rubbish.[6][5] The water is also extremely cold.[5] Despite this the lake continued to be a popular swimming site used by hundreds of people.[7]

    Around 750 local people, concerned about the health risks, signed a petition to have the quarry drained and closed off. However the water was deemed too toxic to drain, as it would risk contaminating local water supplies.[5]

    In order to deter swimmers the water was dyed black in 2013 by High Peak Borough Council, who acted after being unable to get in touch with the site’s owner.[6][5] The dye wore off by 2015 and the water returned to a blue coloration. The council redyed the lake in 2016 with a stronger mixture, but by October 2019 it showed signs of returning to a blue colour.[5] In March 2020 the lake was dyed again following reports of people gathering there despite social distancing instructions issued by the British government to combat the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.[8]

    But yes, NickM, I agree with your sentiments.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Maybe the police thought that people would take a bath in the Blue Lagoon in the hope that it prevents viral infection.

    Or maybe they are just desperate to keep Londoners away. That would be rational.

  • NickM

    No, it has started to go beyond all that… I’m getting so pissed off with this new(ish) totalitarianism (and if anyone thinks this is “temporary” they are deluded) I am getting ready to outlaw myself (even though I’m the one who has been been outlawed!) that it would be only proper to to do so.

    Whatever that means because all organs of the state are now an occupying force.

  • NickM

    I hope the “Londoners” thing was a quip because it has fuck all to do with that. It is to do with me no being able to walk law-abidingly down the street without authorisation.

  • suburbanbanshee

    People are just getting irrational about this. My own brother was complaining about construction workers, doing construction outside during the nice weather, being “immoral.” Apparently construction would only be “moral” if it was building hospitals. Building homes or schools is not “essential” in his view.

    He also complains about not being laid off his own job (!), which at the moment consists of removing tree debris for the utility company. He grudgingly admitted that this was “technically essential,” and that they are out in the fresh air away from people and each other. But somehow, he doesn’t feel like it counts. He wants to remain virtuously at home like his online liberal friends, even though he needs the money and they have a lot more cushion.

    Cases of coronavirus in my US state are 1 in 400,000.

  • Stoffel

    Anyone who knows the law better care to comment?

    The Coronavirus Act of 2020 says that no person may leave their place of residence ‘without reasonable excuse’, and that a ‘reasonable excuse’ includes ‘to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household’. More recent government *guidance* on access to green spaces https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces says to `stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily’, but is not more specific than that, and does not appear to be e.g. secondary legislation to the Act.

    So what powers exactly do the police have to stop people driving for exercise? Good point about the concentration camp guards following the law not being a defence, but it does look like this is the other way around: the police are inventing powers they don’t have.

    It is also the case that phrasing like ‘where possible’ and ‘do not travel unnecessarily’ are subjective.

    I would guess the most likely answer to ‘what powers do they have’ is that the policeperson acting in good faith might just think the Act applies and give you a fine anyway. What then? Isn’t going to court to fight it (whenever that would turn out to be) quite a serious thing for an individual? And this would be in front of a magistrate, presumably? Who might have decided they don’t have time for people who trying to find loopholes etc.

  • StarDasher

    I thought the idea of reducing non-essential car journeys was to reduce the possibility of accidents and thus mitigate the potential NHS workload. Apart from the possibility of thousands visiting the same out of the way location – which prompted the restrictions in the first place.

  • Duncan S


    Whilst that may be the idea: 50-60% of RTCs occur within 5 miles of the home. 😉

  • Mr Ed

    I note that at today’s press conference Foreign Secretary Raab the Robot, (a boxer, and surely a bantamweight – he’s a sort of Conservative Ed Miliband, but without the charisma), seemed to be astonished that there were in fact questions about police behaviour and parroted the usual drivel about supporting the police, even though Lord Sumption (a former UK Supreme Court Justice) has chipped in with his doubts about the situation, this didn’t seem to get through, apart from a slight tone of doubt at the second question.

    Credit to was it Sky and the Telegraph for raising it.

  • Mr Ed


    The Coronavirus Act 2020 has powers relating to events and premises in schedule 22. Look at part 2, paragraph 5 about ‘gatherings’

    Power to prohibit or otherwise restrict events or gatherings in England

    5(1)The Secretary of State may, for the purpose of—

    (a)preventing, protecting against, delaying or otherwise controlling the incidence or transmission of coronavirus, or

    (b)facilitating the most appropriate deployment of medical or emergency personnel and resources,

    issue a direction prohibiting, or imposing requirements or restrictions in relation to, the holding of an event or gathering in England.
    (2) A direction under sub-paragraph (1) may be issued in relation to—

    (a) a specified event or gathering, or

    (b) events or gatherings of a specified description.

    (3) A direction under sub-paragraph (1) may only have the effect of imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions on—

    (a) the owner or occupier of premises for an event or gathering to which the direction relates;

    (b) the organiser of such an event or gathering;

    (c) any other person involved in holding such an event or gathering.

    And note 5 (7):

    (7) The reference in sub-paragraph (3)(c) to a person involved in the holding of an event or gathering does not include a person whose only involvement in the event or gathering is, or would be, by attendance at the event or gathering.

    That is not all of it though. There is also a power to close premises in the schedule at paragraph 6:

    Power to close premises in England or impose restrictions on persons entering or remaining in them

    And similar powers: To be honest, I’m not sure that the powers that the government says it has are found in The Coronavirus Act 2020, and the powers over people coming in from abroad were under Regulations made on 10th February 2020, made under (later amended) The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 which is linked to in the regulations that come up on the link. I will keep looking. Funny how there’s no judicial review hinted at in the event of such a draconian imposition of rules, it’s as if the Courts were only there to impose rules.