‘UK police chiefs urge forces to prioritise persuasion in tackling virus‘, the Financial Times wrote today, quoting Liberty who warned: ‘The broader aim of protecting public health will be undermined by harsh and heavy handed policing.’ JusticeGap had a similar article.
Police warned against ‘overreach’ in use of virus lockdown powers according to The Guardian front page, adding that the National Police Chief Council would try to end the confusion. In response, the NPPC denied this, tweeting: ‘We are not rewriting our guidance to officers. It remains the same as it was. Engage, explain, encourage and finally enforce. This is a fast changing situation and we, along with the public, are adapting as we go forward.’
‘Everyone in policing is acutely aware that how we police this pandemic will be remembered for many years to come’, says the National Police Chiefs Council lead for… counter-terrorism policing.
In a long-read in The Guardian Peter C Baker says: These powers get put in place, and it sounds reasonable enough at the time – “ and then very quickly they’re applied for other purposes that have nothing to do with democracy‘ and nothing to do with public safety This adequately summarises why we set up this blog.
Meanwhile, the confusion has not ended yet.
In the debate on whether Easter Eggs are essential food (BBC: Easter egg crackdown over essential status ‘wrong’), Greater Manchester Police claim success taking enforcement action against “non-essential business trading”. The law says nothing about ‘non-essential business’ and government guidance is clear that it is not only essential businesses that should stay open. Also, in the same post they incorrectly claim there are only three reasons you can leave your home.
‘Stop bombarding North Wales Police 999 and 101 lines with queries about dog walking’ NorthWalesLive reported that the force is being overwhelmed with general Corona questions. North Wales Chief Constable states: ‘The most common question is people asking if they can drive somewhere to walk their dog and the answer is no.’
However, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for charging and out of court disposals, Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen, urged people to ‘be sensible’. She said: ‘There isn’t anything definitive in the legislation that talks about ‘can you get in a car to drive to a place to go and do your exercise’.’
Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police, who was criticised for filming Peak District hikers with a drone, has admitted it is powerless to stop people from going walking in the countryside.
With #PoliceState trending today on Twitter, here’s a summary by @BBCDomC of the emergency police powers. The caveat here is officers retain extraordinary discretion to decide how they are implemented. What is normally considered the ‘rule of law’ no longer applies.
@JasonNParkinson tweeted: ‘Last night approx 11pm a vehicle drove along my East London road, a loud speaker repeating, “Stay in your homes”. Has anyone else witnessed any similar activity?’