British Transport Police has admitted wrongly charging a woman who was fined £660 under coronavirus legislation.
Marie Dinou, 41, from York, was arrested at Newcastle Central Station on Saturday after she refused to tell police why she needed to travel.
She was found guilty and also fined at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court for breaching the new Coronavirus Act.
A police and also Crown Prosecution Service review concluded she was charged under the wrong section of the act.
British Transport Police (BTP) said it had now agreed to contact the court; and also ask for the case to be relisted; as well as the conviction set aside.
“There will be understandable concern that our interpretation of this new legislation has resulted in an ineffective prosecution,” said Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock.
‘Shouldn’t have happened’
“This was in circumstances where officers were properly dealing with someone who was behaving suspiciously in the station; and who staff believed to be travelling without a valid ticket.”
Mr Hanstock said his officers were “rightfully challenging her unnecessary travel”.
He added: “Regardless, we fully accept that this shouldn’t have happened and we apologise.”
The BTP said it would not pursue any alternative prosecution in the matter.
Mr Hanstock said frontline officers had since been provided with the latest guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council to help them interpret the new legislation.
I must remind the public that officers will continue to engage with people; and seek to understand their reasons for their journeys.
Where we determine that there is no justifiable purpose for them being on the transport network; we will explain to the public why they should not travel.
Under Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act it is illegal to fail to comply with the instructions of police officers without reasonable excuse.
The maximum penalty is a fine of £1,000.