Police issue apology to disabled Chesterfield man for ‘misunderstanding’ over gardening

Derbyshire police have apologised to a disabled man and his friend after a ‘misunderstanding’ over gardening amid the coronavirus lockdown.

By Michael Broomhead
Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 10:50 am

Adrian Rimington, of Horsley Close, Chesterfield, said one of his friends – who lives nearby – came to cut his grass on March 31, eight days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict new restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Rimington, 63, told the Derbyshire Times: “After my friend went on his way, two police officers knocked on my door.

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Adrian Rimington.

“One said ‘we’ve had a report from someone that your gardener entered your house in order to plug in your lawnmower’.”

Mr Rimington said he told the officers that this was incorrect and added: “My friend never entered my house.

“I opened the window and my friend reached in with the lawnmower plug.”

Adrian said the police then visited his friend and gave him a warning and told him that if they received another report about him breaking the coronavirus measures then he would be fined.

Derbyshire Constabulary says in this instance its officers were 'incorrect in their interpretation of this part of the legislation'.

Mr Rimington added: “It’s ridiculous, ludicrous.

“My friend lives nearby and he didn’t come into my house.

“I am disabled and he was simply helping me by mowing my lawn, as he has done for 15 years.

“He was being kind – he didn’t deserve a police warning.”

The Derbyshire Times put Mr Rimington’s concerns to Derbyshire Constabulary.

A force spokesperson said: “Officers attending the address spoke to Mr Rimington and subsequently the man who undertook the mowing.

“We have tried to speak to Mr Rimington and his friend to apologise for our response to this but have not been able to reach them at this time.

“There is some misunderstanding when it comes to incidents such as this – and further national guidance has been issued today and this has been sent to officers.

“If someone is undertaking paid gardening work – and they are observing proper social distancing – then they are legally able to continue their work.

“Should someone be helping a friend, neighbour or family member who is in one of the vulnerable groups then they are free to do so – again as long as they are observing the proper social distancing.

“We must all do our bit to limit our contact with people and help stop the spread of the coronavirus, however, in this instance the officers were incorrect in their interpretation of this part of the legislation.”

People who ignore the current restrictions on movement could be landed with an initial fine of £60, followed by a fine of £120 if a second offence is made, the Home Office has warned.

According to the guidance, the cost of initial fixed penalty notices will be cut to £30 if they are paid within 14 days.

Those who do not pay could be taken to court and risk facing costs for unlimited fines.