8 – 10 May Update

POLICING

There was widespread circulation and comment on video footage of residents in one street in Grappenhall, a village in Warrington, performing a ‘socially distanced conga’ to celebrate the 75th-anniversary of VE Day. The BBC reported on the street party, adding to confusion over what is permitted under the existing health regulations.

Significantly, however, the organisers tweeted that the street party was signed off by the police. If true, this is in marked contrast to the police’s attitudes towards socially distanced protest earlier in the week.

However, a protest in Manchester on Saturday by Stand Up to Racism, at the petrol station where a man was tasered by police in front of his child, was allowed to go ahead without the police intervening – presumably on the basis that doing so would have made an already tense situation worse.

A protest by anti-lockdown and 5G conspiracy campaigners in central London on Saturday was broken up and a number of arrests made.

At the start of the weekend, police chiefs were complaining that they are seen by the public as the “villains of the pandemic”, as they braced to send scores of Brits home this Bank Holiday weekend.

The Metropolitan Police Federation expressed its wishes that it had been allowed to crack down harder at the start of the lockdown. Netpol commented that “in reality, until now public support for health regulations has surprised everyone but police continue to push a false message that none of us can be trusted”.

After earlier this week talking about the need to issue more coronavirus fines, Wiltshire Police has had to withdraw 13 of them over concerns they were disproportionate or unlawful

Cumbria Police issued a record number of fines in the Bank Holiday period over alleged breaches of lockdown rules, with 42 issued on Friday alone.

The Police Federation issued a statement in response to changes to lockdown regulations outlined in a speech by Boris Johnson on Sunday, insisting the police’s work “must be based on crystal clear guidance, not loose rules that are left open to interpretation”. Arguably, however, loose rules have been the source of constant concerns since the start of the lockdown, as this blog has tried to highlight.

The Police’s Federation’s chair John Apter reportedly said of the latest changes, however, that: “If the message of what is expected of the public is not clear then it will make the job of policing this legislation almost impossible.”

Brian Booth of the Police Federation’s West Yorkshire branch put it in even stronger terms: “Policing Covid 19 has become impossible after today. My colleagues cannot Engage, Explain, Encourage or Enforce such woolly rules. This is now down to the public to police itself. Please let’s avoid a second spike.”

HUMAN RIGHTS

In an alarming development, Sir Stephen Laws, former first parliamentary counsel responsible for drafting all government laws, has suggested in a paper for the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange {PDF} that Boris Johnson suspend human rights laws to prevent legal challenges to the easing of the coronavirus lockdown rules. His report urges the government to consider derogating from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) until the end of the crisis to avoid public safety measures approved by Parliament being overturned in the courts.  Sir Stephen argues that the complexity of the new social distancing rules meant they risked becoming mired in legal actions over human rights that would undermine the fight against the virus. In such “dangerous and unusual” times, the government could not risk the courts overturning its policy “in a restoration of the use of the law for politics by other means.”

SURVEILLANCE

A new guide by Big Brother Watch: Everything you need to know about the NHSX contact tracing app. Key information on the tech, risks and law in a handy FAQ.

 

One thought on “8 – 10 May Update

  1. The ‘Know Your Rights Under Lockdown’ guide by Bristol Copwatch and Bristol Defendant Solidarity now has a version that can be used in Wales:
    https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/defendant-solidarity/know-your-rights-during-the-lockdown/

    (We are aware that the English version will need an update to reflect recent changes, but can’t do so until they actually become law on Wednesday; especially since the government doesn’t seem to bother publishing the text of any regulations in advance, just makes random public statements instead, and then we all have to wait days to see what the actual legal reality will be).

    Like

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