Police need to learn a thing or two about the internet, more specifically about the difference between live-streaming and playing pre-recorded material.
Twelve officers turned up at the Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool on Saturday night because of reports that a video posted on Facebook was happening live. Footage of the security camera of the club shows that none of the officers was following social distancing guidelines among themselves.
Similarly, Cheshire Police contacted a hunt sabotage group demanding it to publicly confirm that a video it shared on Facebook was filmed pre-lockdown, because these are ‘unprecedented times’. This too had been the result of a complaint (almost certainly from pro-hunt supporters). There has never been any evidence whatsoever that hunt sabs anywhere are ignoring the lockdown.
On the issue of members of the public denouncing others to the authorities, West Midlands Police reported that a video circulating that appeared to show a group of people leaving a mosque in Small Heath in Birmingham had been recorded before lockdown restrictions were imposed.
The confusion over what is allowed and what is not when people leave their homes continues. The Metropolitan Police reported that while patrolling on Saturday, ‘a male who does not live in the area was stopped and subject to a search resulting in a community resolution’. It is unclear on what base the stop and search was performed, and what the resolution entailed. It is not forbidden in any kind of way to be somewhere you don’t live.
In West Yorkshire, Netpol reported that it had been informed police officers had yesterday stopped two care workers, both in their uniforms, who were sharing a car on the way to work a 12-hour shift together at an old people’s home. The driver was fined £60. The two-metre social distancing rule cannot apply to them, as many of residents they support require two carers
Police in Lancashire have issued 123 fixed penalty notices to people, again confusing advice and rules, according to their Facebook account: ‘Thank you to the vast majority of people across Lancashire who have been sticking to the government advice to stay at home and only travel when essential. We have been patrolling areas across the county and where we have seen people breaking the rules, we have issued fines.’
Warrington Police fined six people over the weekend, including for being ‘out for a drive due to boredom’ and ‘multiple people from the same household going to the shops for non-essential items’. With the few shops that remain opening offering only essentials like food, it’s unclear what shopping for ‘non-essential items’ means. Neither is it clear at what point family members going out to the shops together (whilst unwise) was criminalised.
A man with a history of mental health problems been ordered to pay a £500 fine, £85 prosecution costs and a £50 victim surcharge after he refused to obey coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Swindon residents with doorbell cameras or CCTV at their homes are being urged to register them with Wiltshire Police, who are setting up a database of private cameras. Amazon Ring doorbells, many with motion-activated sensors, can be linked into other smart devices including mobile phones and Amazon’s Alexa. Is this project set up now just to catch thieves, as the police says, or would such a network come in handy to check on people going out, to assist the enforcement of the lockdown – as happens in other countries?
- Rachel Cunliffe for Reaction points out that Lockdown is bringing out the worst in authoritarian police, using many of the examples collected here as well:
‘This is a moment for our police to step up and show that they are on the public’s side as we all grapple with the new demands. Instead, law and order officials are flexing their newly-empowered muscles and criminalising as much behaviour as they can.’
- David Allen Green wrote a worried comment today urging us to take a moment to reflect the extraordinary legal situation that we are now in: “Three fundamental freedoms – freedom of movement, freedom of association and freedom of worship – have all been abolished for six months by a statutory instrument which has been neither scrutinised nor voted on by members of parliament.”
- Big Brother Watch shared an interview with former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, who described the use of drones by Derbyshire Police [see our 26 March Update] as having “shamed our policing traditions”, adding “this is what a police state is like”.