There was widespread national media coverage of a video shared on Twitter showing a Lancashire Police officer threatening to fabricate a charge to detain a young man up, saying “I’ll lock you up… We’ll make something up… who are they going to believe, me or you?” in what Netpol called an unusual moment of transparency
As a thread by David Allen Green pointed out, Police Twitter “followed the usual trajectory” of bad-faith efforts to discredit the video or claim it was unrepresentative, but Lancashire police have apologised and launched an investigation.
Despite fresh guidance from the National Police Chiefs Council on lockdown measures issued last week, Dorset Police plans to ignore them and will not be making changes to its enforcement of travel. A network representing police and crime commissioners from rural areas is lobbying against the revised, less rigid freedom of movement guidelines. North Yorkshire’s Julia Mulligan, who chairs the network, calls the revisions “hugely unhelpful”.
Meanwhile, over the weekend there were further reports of the kind of arbitrary and often petty demands by police to move people along.
In Stoke-on-Trent, police have been asked to step up patrols to stop so-called ‘lockdown loiterers’. One woman commented on how she had told police community support officers in her area that sniping at women who are walking was unprofessional. In Clissold Park in Hackney in east London, two police officers were photographed telling a black man who was exercising to leave whilst ignoring a white man was practicing handstands nearby.
In Birmingham, police confronted a family from the same household and told them to stop eating dinner together on their own driveway. West Midlands Police say they used a ‘common sense’ approach “to stop people flouting orders to stay at home”.
In the north of Ireland, the mother of a child with special needs in County Down said that had PSNI officers had ordered her to leave her front garden and stay indoors, even though no one from another household was present. The following day she was again sitting in the garden when two police cars pulled up and officers told her that a neighbour had reported her for being seated in her garden.
After numerous forces have set up reporting mechanisms enabling people to denounce their neighbours for alleged lockdown infractions, the police are now calling for an end to ‘lockdown-shaming’ as a weapon in feuds. Forces are receiving thousands of complaints about rule-breaking and fear many are used to settle scores.
Following the condemnation of police gathering on Westminster Bridge last week, there have been further examples of officers in London failing to observe the physically distancing rules that everyone else is urged to follow, such as in New Cross where around 50 police officers gathered outside Queens Rd Fire Station and Special Constables in south London posing for a promotional photo.
“Police Twitter pages boasting about their corona patrols finding a small piece of cannabis, or regulating what they consider are “essential” items for someone’s supermarket trolley appears to show they are enjoying the new status” argues Plan C.
“It might be tempting for some to search for a law enforcement solution to the pandemic”, says the ACLU’s New York chapter, but “we should always remember that police officers are not health care workers and they should not be on the front lines of solving this crisis. In some instances, they can make things worse.
Northwich Guardian: “Police want us to report lockdown breaches – but is it the right thing to do?“