7 April Update

POLICING

The Joint Committee on Human Rights of both Houses of Parliament has asked the Metropolitan Police for the guidance issued to Borough Commanders on their role in parks and open spaces in London. In a letter from the committee’s chair, Harriet Harman, the committee says “we have seen police tape preventing the use of park benches and police using surveillance to identify people who are breaching the guidance not to drive to beauty spots”.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, gave a statement saying that people who refuse to leave public spaces will be forced to.

As one local resident remarked of Victoria Park in east London, which remains closed, “the pavements and towpaths around it are busy with people, and kids playing on the road. Saw people arguing with the police about it and police said they agree it should be open. Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in the country”.

Meanwhile, there were reports today that after encouraging people to report their neighbours for potential breaches of the emergency legislation, the police in Derbyshire are now receiving phone calls every five minutes

Police in the West Midlands has fined a father £480 because his son kept leaving the family home. They have warned that “if the youth goes out again without good reason and again associates with others the fine will be doubled and could reach £960.”

Police in Gloucestershire have targeted shoppers at a retail park, saying that “plant pots, plants and paint at this time are not essential”, although the stores selling them remain open.

A man who stole four face masks from King’s College Hospital in Lambeth has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison today. At any other time, this level of sentencing would seem wholly unprecedented, but the CPS told the court that “although the monetary value of the items that were stolen was extremely small, the potential negative impact on, and implications for, the hospital, its staff and patients was profound to say the least, given their current use during this pandemic”.

A police union wants all officers issued with spit hoods because, it says, of incidents since the start of the lockdown. Netpol has responded, warning that “if spit hoods are issued to all officers, expect their use to disproportionately target people from racialised communities and children as young as 13”.

Confusion reigns in the government with Boris Johnson hospitalised. Dominic Raab’s “evasive and equivocal answers” tonight on when they will review lockdown includes a promise to review after three weeks, which is by Monday 13 April. Raab appears not to know the law requires it by Thursday 16 April.

Opinion

COVID-19: Do civil liberties matter in a public health emergency? asks Christina Ashibogu of Bindmans Solicitors at The Justice Gap

With living space, gardens and local area dictating our day-to-day happiness, the lockdown has laid bare Britain’s class divide, argues Lynsey Hanley

The Campaign for Freedom of Information has written about Freedom of Information and the pandemic

Resources

Melbourne Activist Legal Support and the Police Accountability Project in Australia – have put together this tracking project COVID-19 Policing in Australia.

And of course there is the German #CoronaTagebuch diary (and inspiration for our project) monitoring #CoronaPolizei, by CILIP.

David Anderson QC in a long Twitter thread summarises the various viewpoints in the debate on the question ‘Can we be forced to stay at home?‘ 

UK Administrative Justice Institute has built a repository of blogs, opinion pieces, and news summaries on the theme of Covid-19 and how this pandemic affects administrative justice.

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