Coastal police forces are using number plate tracking technology to identify and fine “holidaymakers” who have driven to their areas. Sussex Police issued more than 100 fixed penalty notices to people from outside the county and more than 50 fixed penalty notices to day-trippers in Brighton living outside Sussex.
An Aberdeen surfer was fined by police for exercising at the beach, just metres from his home like he does every day. A police officer stopped him and said in his opinion it wasn’t an appropriate form of exercise and that if anything happened to him it would potentially give the NHS more work. He was issued with a £60 fine, which would reduce to £30 if paid promptly. Meanwhile, many other people still surfing in Cornwall with no fines issued and with police even agreeing it was an acceptable form of exercise
In Edinburgh, a student who paused his daily stroll for a bit on The Meadows was told to move on within five minutes. After he complained about the officer not keeping the appropriate 1,5m distance approaching him, he got a phone call from the police with apologies.
Despite acknowledging that the public is heeding advice to stay home, Shropshire Police becomes the latest force to launch an online reporting form enabling people to denounce their neighbours for alleged lockdown restrictions.
In an indication that encouraging people to denounce their neighbours can create new problems, a nurse in Cambridgeshire returned from a 12-hour shift to find a note telling her she is “a disgrace and has been reported”. In Derbyshire, neighbours called police to report on a family having a drink – in their own garden – to remember a father who died last month.
A coalition of groups including Netpol, the London Campaign against Police and State Violence (LCAPSV), The Monitoring Group and StopWatch have put together resources for communities around the new police powers, with the leaflet ‘Let’s look out for each other’ as a first result (available for download).
Someone who posted the pink flyer in their local Covid-19 Mutual Aid group in Hertfordshire received a message from the police requesting its removal. An officer said, “There is a line at the bottom about perceived inappropriate police behaviour. As a frontline, local police Sgt, I find this outrageous in these unprecedented and trying times. […] this poster is basically excusing any teenager to be outside, putting everyone at risk, while planting the seed for people to complain about the police“.
Rich Bryant responded saying: “My mum is a member and collects prescriptions for the infirmary in her rural village. Wiltshire Police have now stopped her twice and demanded to search her bags for “non-essential items”.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) told the Manchester Evening News they were called to 1,008 reports of people having house parties and gatherings in Greater Manchester over the Easter weekend.
A 21-year-old man has been wrongly convicted under coronavirus laws, the Metropolitan Police have admitted, as concerns grow over the use of emergency powers. He was incorrectly charged with an offence under a section of the Coronavirus Act 2020 that relates to ‘potentially infectious persons’, which was not applicable in this instance.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, Liberal Democrat Member of the Scottish Parliament, argues that emergency powers must only be temporary in How Covid-19 us a gift to would-be dictators.
What are your legal rights in Scotland under the Coronavirus laws? By Aamer & Anwar solicitors.
Guide to help young people stay safe during the Coronavirus lockdown, by Account Hackney.