British countrysides form vigilantes to prevent import of coronavirus from people fleeing lockdown
London, April 27, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Community vigilantes are springing up in some rural dwellers in Britain specifically to prevent people from major cities fleeing locksown from exporting coronavirus to their villages
Aside returnees fleeing lockdown, the vigilantes also block roads, confront cyclists and erect signs in an effort to deter people from travelling to the countryside for exercise during the lockdown, according to a report from leading British tabloid, The Guardian
According to the report, the National Rural Crime Network has received reports of “small-scale vigilantism” by some residents growing angry at people driving long distances to the countryside, including beauty spots, for walks or cycle rides.
More worryingly, the organisation’s chair said people had even been “aggressively driving at cyclists”
Their behaviour has caused concern with those who point out people enjoying the countryside to exercise are not necessarily breaking government rules if they maintain physical distancing, with one police leader warning vigilantes not to take the law into their own hands.
The paper reported a case in the Lake District where an abusive note was left on the windscreen of a family’s car by a man who also threatened to damage their vehicle after they drove four miles from their home to go for a walk.
Julia Mulligan, the National Rural Crime Network chair who is also the Conservative police, fire and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, said people travelling to the countryside for exercise was causing anxiety. She told the Guardian: “We’ve had small-scale vigilantism, if you like, so communities blocking off roads, people driving aggressively at cyclists.”
She added: “People have been making it clear that people coming from long distances to enjoy our local beauty spots that are not local to them are not welcome … There have been signs put up, we’ve had people calling cyclists out. All sorts of little things, nothing that is criminal but people really making it clear how anxious they feel.”
But she made clear it was not acceptable for people to be abusive to cyclists. Asked whether she was concerned that those involved in vigilantism may themselves end up falling foul of the law, she said: “Yes, absolutely. And what it’s doing is creating tension in communities. And we don’t want tension – we’ve all got to come out of this the other side of this.”