Black dye and drones - English police bemuse public with coronavirus response

BUXTON, England, March 28 (Reuters) - A rural British police force has bemused the public with unusual responses to the coronavirus crisis including dyeing a lagoon black to dissuade people from going there and flying drones over a remote beauty spot to shame walkers.

Officers based in Buxton, a small town in Derbyshire in central England, said on Facebook that they had received reports of people congregating by the water which fills a deep hole in a disused quarry.

The spot is known to locals as “the Blue Lagoon” for the Caribbean-like shade of the water.

“The location is dangerous and this type of gathering is in contravention of the current instruction of the UK Government,” the police said in a post on Wednesday.

They said they had used water dye to make the lagoon look less appealing, a tactic employed in the past to keep people away. The post included a series of striking images of sunlit blue water with patches of black, looking as if ink had just been poured into it.

The police approach drew a mixed response, with some social media users saying the arresting images risked drawing even more people to the lagoon.

“Please remove this photo. It is attracting idiots,” said one user called Chris Kent.

A Reuters photographer who visited the location on Saturday said the water was now completely black. The weather was cold and grey and no one was there.

Derbyshire Police also sparked a vigorous online debate earlier this week by posting a video, filmed by drones flying over the scenic Peak District National Park, criticising a handful of people who were out walking in a remote area.

“Walking your dog in the Peak District - not essential. Going for a walk miles from home - not essential,” were among a series of stern messages that appeared on the video.

This prompted many social media users to comment that such behaviour hardly seemed like a serious threat compared with images of people in London, the epicentre of the outbreak in Britain, mingling in crowded markets and parks.

“Looks like a wonderful, safe place to be. Never mind 2m apart, 2 miles apart here,” said Twitter user Kathy Pearson in one of the more polite comments.

“Got this a bit wrong #DerbyshirePolice.” (Writing by Estelle Shirbon: Editing by Giles Elgood)