UKC

Travelling to climb in Somerset area

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Heads up that police are travelling round popular climbing and walking venues photographing car number plates then sending fines if people have travelled too far. I am aware of this happening at Goblin Combe, Priddy and Fairy Cave quarry. You may be aware of the well publicised rescue at Cheddar last weekend when walkers were rescued and then fined £200 each.

In reply to Ian Butterworth:

How do they know if you are there doing work or not?

In reply to Mark S Davies:

Good question. I guess you will have to make your case once you get the letter.

 beardy mike 11 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

Hey Ian, any idea on what they are calling too far? Not that I want to go what with it being colder than a witches tit...

Post edited at 16:25
In reply to beardy mike:

The guidance is clear as mud so I guess it is down to each individual. As I understand it is open to the interpretation of each police force/officer. Personally I haven't been climbing anywhere other than crags to which I can walk or cycle.

 SFrancis 11 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

Thanks for the heads up. 
 

Purely out of interest how do you know they are sending out fines? I find it hard to believe they are, but then again a certain police force did dye a “lagoon”.

Anyway I would be very surprised if it would stand up to any sort of challenge. 

Post edited at 21:18
 GrahamD 11 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

Sounds right and proper to me.

 Red Rover 12 Feb 2021
In reply to SFrancis:

> a certain police force did dye a “lagoon”.

That lagoon is dyed black every year, it's nothing to do with the virus. The water is highly caustic and polluted so they want to keep people out. With the timing of the dying this year it got jumped on by the media.

 SFrancis 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Red Rover:

Interesting, I guess signs didn’t stop people. 

 trouserburp 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

5 miles apparently in Cheddar, so don't walk too far! 

In reply to trouserburp:

But it was fine for Johnson to go seven miles for his bike ride the other week and that was to a very crowded Olympic Park. I'm abiding by the rules but these grey areas open to the interpretation of individual police or individual forces add to the stress of many normally law-abiding citizens. I'm not referring to the lies of Amir Khan who got fined for driving 150 miles to go to a crap restaurant near me but the old lady I met yesterday who had driven out of the city to an open  country park but told me she was worried because police had been checking cars. She was keen to do the right thing but didn't know exactly what it was.

 trouserburp 12 Feb 2021
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

I totally agree. I also think taking a car reg as evidence the owner is breaking the rules is an appalling case of guilty until proven innocent

 Red Rover 12 Feb 2021
In reply to trouserburp:

This whole situation is an authoritarian's wet dream! Some restrictions are necessary but police checking who is going to the park is a bit OTT. 

 ben_st 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Red Rover:

It baffles me the effort employed to stop people recreating in pairs. It's a 'if I can't have fun, no one can' mentality for people with no hobbies except going to the shops and pub, rather than being practical in any way. The the gov't will wonder why alcoholism, depression and suicide will be so high after everyone loses jobs, families break down etc because even simple activities like climbing with one other person are apparently too much to compromise on.

 Red Rover 12 Feb 2021
In reply to ben_st:

Yes I was pro-lockdown and anti travelling anywhere at the start of the pandemic as the virus was largely unknown but now we have data showing that transmission is mainly indoors I have changed my mind. I can't believe we are still under house arrest nearly a year later it is a total disaster. If the vaccines hadn't been available so quickly we would be f*cked.

 Meddins 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

I text my friend last night and showed him this thread.

 Hes a copper for Avon and Somerset and he said thats not true as they cannot issue a fine without legally talking to the person etc.

So fake news im afraid 

In reply to Ian Butterworth:

I was planning on going this weekend, so could have tested the theory, but the weather looks rubbish!

 Maggot 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Meddins:

>  Hes a copper for Avon and Somerset and he said thats not true as they cannot issue a fine without legally talking to the person etc.

What about Fixed Penalty Notices?  Parking tickets for example, no one talks to the driver.
These 'fines' are FPNs, no?

 Babika 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Meddins:

I smelt a whiff of urban myth as well. 

Police have got enough on their hands without contesting every FPN. And the actual police guidance talks about engaging with the public and enquiring about the reason for their journey, can't do this if you don't see them.

Slapping tickets on parked cars based on ANPR seems fraught with difficulty. 

 Meddins 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Maggot:

Like I said I asked a serving police officer what the score is and he said that the covid fine requires a chat.

Thats all I can offer you im afraid 

 GrahamD 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Red Rover:

> Yes I was pro-lockdown and anti travelling anywhere at the start of the pandemic as the virus was largely unknown but now we have data showing that transmission is mainly indoors I have changed my mind. I can't believe we are still under house arrest nearly a year later it is a total disaster. If the vaccines hadn't been available so quickly we would be f*cked.

Certainly f*cked with the level of intellect on display here.

In reply to Maggot:

Then the car (not the driver) is physically in a place it shouldn’t be so it’s cut and dry illegal.

In order to appease The 22 Committee, the PM hasn’t legally defined ‘local’.

Therefore you can’t be fined because your car is legally parked an arbitrary distance from its registered address. This could be due to a whole host of legal reasons, one of which is exercise outside with one other person.

The ‘Hunter Welly Two’ successfully challenged their FPN on this basis. The plod can give you all the letters they want, you haven’t broken a law.

Reminds me of a book I read on the Stasi. East German laws were kept purposefully vague. The populace worked themselves up into a frenzy in the course of the ‘common good’, over-interpreted them and started shopping each other. Seems strangely apt.

Anyway, the PM won’t have this issue as when he was seen cycling round East London he had a drop off/pick up from one of his aides. 

 GrahamD 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Liam P:

UK laws  are also deliberately vague because being too prescriptive doesn't work.  Reasonable behaviour is the tenet of a lot of legislation including labour law and health and safety.  It works because people, judges and juries (but apparently not a lot of UKC users) understand what 'reasonable' means, even in unanticipated scenarios. 

 leland stamper 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

Having been around Cheddar gorge recently it does seem there are a lot of "walkers" wandering around looking for something to see  or do. I don't think the climbers or even the walkers are the problem for the police(despite the initial condemnation last weekend). An element of discretion should avoid fines.

 Red Rover 12 Feb 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

> Certainly f*cked with the level of intellect on display here.

What are you saying, what have I said that's dumb? I don't think people driving into the hills would spread the virus much. There was no spike following the spring bank holiday beach exodus, the summer holiday hordes or even the protests. Transmission seems to be mainly indoors.

Staying at home forever might be OK for people in a nice big house with a nearby crag, and it's even better for those who the government is paying not to work, but for some of us it is getting quite bad. A year indoors in an urban flat is quite hard to deal wtih! Even a day out in the hills is denied to us despite the fact that outdoor transmission seems unlikely.

"and the odds of indoor transmission was very high compared to outdoors (18.7 times; 95% confidence interval, 6.0–57.9)"

https://academic.oup.com/jid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/infdis/jiaa742/6009483

And transmission from surfaces is even less likely so it's not like filling up for fuel at the pay-at-the-pump station is going to spread it.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00251-4

P.S. the first paper ends with "there are significant gaps in our understanding of specific pathways." OK we don't fully understand something so let's err on the safe side and lock everybody up! Now people for whom the virus is mild are totally fucked by the situation and will either lose QALY through unemployment and poverty or will just kill themselves. At least let us go for a walk now that most of the data show it's safe to do so. Meanwhile the DVLA don't let anyone work from home and 500 of them catch the virus.

Post edited at 22:48
 willdjones 12 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

Seems like a bit of a waste and a bit extra to bother checking anywhere so rural! Besides, I feel like I'm more likely to come close to someone while going on a run around my local park, so don't see much of an issue..

In reply to Red Rover:

We seem to have reached an impasse in these discussions.
Yes, transmission of the virus in the outdoors is negligible.
However, the activities partaken by many on UKC are risk heavy and can easily result in needing involvement from a myriad of emergency services if we mess up and the resultant impact on the NHS.
So, if you can 100% guarantee that you won't become a statistic go for it. 
Conversely, if you can't guarantee that 100%, then perhaps consider not doing it?

‘You've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?’

 Red Rover 13 Feb 2021
In reply to FactorXXX:

I'm not talking about climbing which I wouldn't do, just going for a walk! I can go hillwalking without getting hurt. Not 100% but 99.9% and there is a tradeoff to be made against the harm caused by not going. I'd happily sign a discalimer saying don't bother rescueing me. Not everything is black and white and not everything is to be sacrificed on the alter of Covid especially if it doesn't increase transmission.

OK there are idiots who drive 200 miles and break their leg but how many? There doesn't seem to be a cost-benefit analysis of anything and any debate can be shut down with "don't you want to save lives". For example the NICE recommends that a treatment only be carried out if it costs less than £20k to £30k per QALY saved. How much per QALY have we spent since this started? I am not saying let it rip just that it's not all black and white and you can't say "this activity is only 99.9% safe so don't do it especially after a year.

I was against going anywhere during lockdown one because we didn't really know if transmission outdoors happened or not. And for lockdown one the deal was that it was to buy us time to get track and trace working and to flatten the curve, to get the country ready for what was to come. One year later and we're still stuck in our houses! We just got incredibly lucky with the vaccine development, it's like we mortgaged the house and put it all on red.

Back in Jan 2020 I was argueing on here and elsewhere that we should take the virus more seriously and pretty much everyone laughed at me, saying 'why are you worried about that virus it's all the way over in China and it's only killed 200 people'. Even in March only a small percentage seemed to give a shit, now the people who ignored it until it was far too late are telling me I can't drive 15 miles to do something that won't increase transmission! It's particularly annoying when the people telling me not to go anywhere  and to make sure I clap for the NHS are those who laughed at me when I warned about the virus and who haven't had to work for a year.

Post edited at 04:54
 Blanche DuBois 13 Feb 2021
In reply to FactorXXX

> However, the activities partaken by many on UKC are risk heavy

How many - what data do you have to support your notion of "many"

> and can easily result in needing involvement from a myriad of emergency services if we mess up and the resultant impact on the NHS.

Really?  Easily? How easily?  I don't recall shit loads of climbing accidents before the pandemic.  Has this changed?

> So, if you can 100% guarantee that you won't become a statistic go for it. 

In the natural world guaranteeing anything 100% is a bit tricky.

> Conversely, if you can't guarantee that 100%, then perhaps consider not doing it?

So, what are your secrets of living a life with 0.00% risk?

> ‘You've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?’

Kind of odd to use a quote from a macho bullshit movie from a character who has a personality that epitomizes risk taking in this context, but whatever....

I'm thinking that you won't be posting anymore, what with the > 0% risk of electrocution (not to mention carpal tunnel syndrom) inherent in using electrical devices.

[Edit] I notice you seem to be a fan of current "six nations" tournament.  Rugby - that well known risk free sport.

Post edited at 05:37
 Offwidth 13 Feb 2021
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

Well said Blanche. All it takes is a level of proportionality.... cotton wool approaches or ignoring all regulations are both just dumb but most of the UK seem to be able to form a sensible compromise for their exercise and covid risks outdoors are very low.

People who think international rugby is a good idea but climbing cautiously outdoors isn't are just nuts.

Post edited at 12:32
 Red Rover 13 Feb 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

Agreed, rubgy seems to have a similar injury rate to riding a motorbike to a loose alpine crag and climbing a route that's slightly out of condition. How is that OK but walking in the Peak if you live more than 7 miles away isn't?

Post edited at 13:07
 beardy mike 13 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

Right I have had a chat with a friend who works in the police force which would be enforcing in the FCQ area. His response is that it is as we know very vague, but it's about reasonableness. If you have to travel as I do, 12 miles to get to the quarry, if I travel separately from my friend and am behaving in a reasonable way, then that will be entirely acceptable and within the law. If however you're driving long distances, going past other venues to get somewhere, travelling together, travelling as a group, not social distancing, that's what you can be collared for, and the police guidance is to always talk to whomever they find before handing out any fine.

 deepsoup 13 Feb 2021
In reply to beardy mike:

>  the police guidance is to always talk to whomever they find before handing out any fine.

I don't think it would be possible to issue a fine any other way.  Traffic offences are different in that there's a legal mechanism there to hold the registered keeper of the car responsible, but for anything else they'd need to positively identify the driver of the car (and any passengers).  The only practical way to do that is to speak to them.

Incidentally I've read about an idea, that strikes me as a good one, that the law should be changed to make the registered keeper of a car liable for any littering from the car.  That way video evidence such as dashcam footage of someone chucking rubbish out of the window would be enough to issue an FPN for that, without the need to identify the individual.

 beardy mike 26 Feb 2021
In reply to Ian Butterworth:

So today I went climbing for the first time in ages in FCQ and came across a large group of students. I really really don't want this post to escalate, I just want to put my thoughts out there, and really want to make it clear I am absolutely in favour of you going climbing within the rules. 

I thought about whether to approach the group or not as I did not want to come across as a total killjoy but in the end I thought sod it. I spoke to them as they were in a group of 8-10, very clearly not social distancing, and very clearly students in a club. They acknowledged that maybe they should maybe spread out a bit and were polite etc.

When I left the quarry later, I could hear them giggling and laughing quite clearly having a nice time. Only thing is I could hear you clear as a bell from the quarry entrance, and see you at the top of the quarry all stood together, literally from the quarry entrance. All it would take would be one copper at an inopportune moment to drive past and for them to contact the landowner and it would put Ian the BMC rep in the shit as the access is sensitive. Please please engage your noggin and be a bit more discrete. I mean for starters its really bloody obvious you've travelled a fair distance when you broadcast which university you're at via a bumper sticker on your car... Hopefully all this will be over soon and we can return to normal, I for one am busting to get out...

Post edited at 18:07
 beardy mike 26 Feb 2021
In reply to beardy mike:

Just one more thing, when driving from your illustrious city of residence, you will have passed numerous closer venues at which you could go climbing. The point of the guidance in my view and many other I’ve spoken to is that you go to pretty much the closest place (within reason) to get your exercise. I am fairly sure that if a copper knows to look at Fairy Caves, they will have some knowledge of climbing and they will know after looking at your bumper sticker and having had a chat with you that you simply don’t need to make a 40 mile round trip to get your climbing in... they would have been within their rights to slap you all with a fine which I imagine would decimate your allowance/earnings/student loan...

 Jon Read 27 Feb 2021

In reply to jt232:

No, but it can make a big difference to the whole country. The further people travel, the easier it is for infections to spread from higher prevalence areas to lower prevalence areas, which increases overall infection rates. This is the rationale for 'stay local' messages. Tackling epidemics *always* requires thinking at the population scale, not at just the scale of the individual.

 beardy mike 27 Feb 2021

In reply to jt232:

Personally I’m not bothered that they came from a city not so far away. Just pointing out that of you can be booked for eating chips in cheddar having travelled from Bristol, then going to FCQ in a group of 10 would be equally bookable... might not be result a bunch of students are looking for at 600 notes a head... 6000 would be quite the haul and makes the climbing community on the whole look rubbish. If they’d been there climbing in pairs I would absolutely not have had any reason to approach them, it was more that they were congregated at the bottom of Balches slide in a closely spaced group having travelled from Bristol. If you’re going to break the rules at least do it out of the way so its not bleedin obvious.

This is also not mentioning the fact that as I left there was one of them a bit stuck halfway up a bloody loose VDiff with his mate 2m below him unroped telling him how to get up. This is a route which has large loose blocks at the top. It’s an accident waiting to happen with all the stern chats which would ensue from the representing emergency services...

Post edited at 10:37
 freeflyer 27 Feb 2021

In reply to jt232:

> So if you are going to climb, as long as you socially distance at the crag it doesn't really matter how far you have come!

On a personal level that may seem to be true, however you have entirely missed Jon's point:

>  Tackling epidemics *always* requires thinking at the population scale, not at just the scale of the individual.

Therefore the rules say - do not travel. It's annoying, but there it is.

 Jamie Wakeham 27 Feb 2021

In reply to jt232:

> driving 5,15 or 50 miles won't make any difference to your chance of catching or spreading covid

...but cramming people into cars to drive any distance will dramatically increase the chances.  That's why all university sport is currently shut down.  I doubt that their Sports Fed / SU would look kindly upon this at all.

 beardy mike 27 Feb 2021

In reply to jt232:

All that is well and good, but the simple fact is that currently the guidance is don't leave home unless it's for exercise with a single other person and reasonably close to home. These guys and girls however well intentioned they are have driven past their far more extensive climbing on their doorstep on a 40 mile trip to a quarry as a group of 8-10 people. There weren't enough cars to have travelled individually, so they've broken just about every guideline there is. All I'm saying is that if you're going to do that, you might as well be discrete about it. Honestly, I could hear 4 voices chatting from the entrance of the quarry - the acoustics in that place are weird and noise really travels...


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