21 – 22 April Update

POLICING

Like Sussex Police, Dorset Police is still advising people to avoid driving for their daily exercise if possible, even though last week the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the professional standards body the College of Policing published a document that categorically stated it is “lawful to drive for exercise”. Apparently, Dorset Police have a very strict interpretation of the regulations and the law. Baroness Jenny Jones posted a photo of a gate, writing: “This notice you have put up is inaccurate. People can exercise as often as they like. Nothing in law prevents them. You are repeating ministerial comments which have no force in law.”

Yesterday, Police Scotland clarified lockdown rules saying that, unlike south of the border, measures have not changed since lockdown was introduced. People in Scotland are still not allowed to drive in order to exercise, you can only leave your house once to do this, you can take a rest, but not too long. Scottish people are not allowed to visit friends at their homes, even if they need to “cool off” after an argument.

Meanwhile some police forces are deleting their own tweets about enforcements of coronavirus regulations. A tweet by Thames Valley Police boasting about how many cars they were stopping disappeared after David Allen Green asked on what was the legal basis for these stops. Luckily someone made a screenshot, while their colleagues in Reading retweeted a later boast about four different ‘vehicle stop checks’. Advice from the NPCC says: “Road checks on every vehicle is equally disproportionate.”

An example of overheated policing, shared by Matt Cole, was of “a tiny verbal disagreement leads to tons of cops (3 vans & 5 cars, 1 unmarked) descending onto to my estate, violently harassing residents. Completely disproportionate. A group of them forced their way into a house and pulled a young man out before throwing him to the ground”. Coles overheard a police officer from his window “saying they had a report that there were “30 people fighting with knives”. I watched what was actually happening and it was about six people having a heated argument and some shouting before dispersing”.

A pensioner and retired social worker were assaulted by a police officer in the pandemic for no reason whatsoever. She was not arrested, but Thames Valley Police did no keep any distance. She had just asked a HS2 worker about a barn owl nest at this location. Video of the incident. Ann told Lizzy Williams: “I’m alright. All I wanted to know was if the bats & the owls in the barn were going to be looked after properly, but the #HS2 workers simply turned their backs on and sent the police out on me. If he bent my arm any further he would have broken it. I’m only 8 stone”. The National Eviction Team at Crackley Wood forcefully restrained an ancient woodlands protector who was trying to record the excessive violence, again, no distance was kept. (see video)

COMMENT

Coronavirus discriminates against Black lives through surveillance, policing and the absence of health data, Beverly Bain, OmiSoor Dryden and Rinaldo Walcott in The Conversation.

Daniel Trottier reflects on neighbourhood vigilance & vigilantism during the COVID-19 pandemic: does scrutiny & denunciation combine both entertainment & justice-seeking? In Open Book Blog.

Coronavirus Act labelled “draconian” in Civicus Monitor, tracking civic space.

RESOURCES

A Useful report from The Institute of Government’s Raphael_Hogarth on parliament’s role during the pandemic with a timeline of recent emergency laws.

Tom Hickman offers eight ways to reinforce and revise the lockdown law

Francis_Hoar argues that the nationwide lockdown is not proportionate under human rights law

“Coronavirus and Human Rights: Policing, Surveillance and Detention in a Pandemic”: a @HumanRightsLawA online event with @DoughtyStPublic’s @Kirsty_Brimelow, @matrixchambers’s Chris Buttler and @libertyhq’s @Hannah_Couchman. 12th May at 4pm. Sign up at via Eventbrite

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