The BBC’s Home Affairs Correspondent Danny Shaw has reported on revisions to guidelines for officers from the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing that seem even more complex than before. Officers in England are told they can stop people working in parks or sitting on a park bench for a long time and now says driving to the countryside for a walk is “reasonable” if “far more time” is spent walking than driving, but that driving for a “prolonged period with only brief exercise” is not reasonable.
The latest guidance for officers (as of today, 16 April 2020) is available here.
The National Police Chiefs Council also has published a full breakdown on where fines for breaches of government public health regulations were issued by police officers in England between 27 March and the 13 April 2020.
There are also limited statistics for Welsh forces covering the four days of the Easter bank holiday weekend:
In total, police in England have issued 3203 fines over this 18 day period.
To put this into some kind of context, Netpol noted that police forces in England issued the equivalent of 15% of all the 20,800 penalty notices for disorder issued for both England and Wales in the 12 months to March 2019 (for reference see these Ministry of Justice quarterly Criminal Justice Statistics, page 3).
Forces had to withdraw 39 fines mistakenly issued to children.
In further reports on the way lockdown powers are implemented by the police, one woman in London told how she was approached by two police officers at her allotment “who had climbed over the fence (into private property) because a “concerned member of the public” had emailed to alert them to “possible sunbathing”.
In Glasgow, another member of the public described how they were threatened with a fine by officers after resting because they were in pain. They were told “you’re not disabled” by the officers, who failed to themselves comply with physical distancing. Officers might, it was suggested, want to “google invisible disabilities or maybe get them to do something useful instead!”
The journalist Michael Segalov, who was last week hassled and shouted at by the police for filming an incident in Finsbury Park in north London, has now released the footage and written about his experience.
It was announced today that restrictions on where police can fly drones have been relaxed due to the lockdown. Drones weighing under 2kg can be flown within 10 metres of people and objects, or 20 metres for heavier drones. The usual minimum distance is 50 metres.
LEARN FROM THE PAST
A gem found in an archival dig into the so-called “Spanish” influenza pandemic in Canada in 1918. Instructions to magistrates included this: “The presence of the police in an attempt to enforce quarantine would create more panic.” (St Johns Telegram, 1918. h/t @carlottatweets)
Heavy-handed police are enforcing restrictions that do not exist in law, Chris Henley, QC, The Times
War and the Coronavirus Pandemic – Catherine Connolly reflects on the use of war metaphors in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic
Are civil liberties being curtailed by new policing powers? And are different communities being treated equally? A podcast from Unlock Democracy featuring Netpol’s coordinator.
Ahead of the government’s review today of the lockdown law, Adam Wagner asks Can we make good laws during a bad pandemic? To safeguard liberty, all emergency powers should meet these four tests. In The Prospect.
Bristol Defendant Solidarity has just released a ‘Know Your Rights’ guide which covers (the English version of) the new regulations about public gatherings and when people are allowed to leave the house.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergency (SAGE) brief on the role of behavioural science in pandemic planning generally and a return for COBR on public disorder from its SPI-B group make interesting reading for those interested in #PolicingTheCoronaState. Analysis in thread by Mark Roodhouse
OpenDemocracy published a round-up of how around the world, women, minorities and other marginalised groups are often disproportionately affected by draconian curbs on their rights.