21-22 May Update

POLICING

Big Brother Watch has written a letter (PDF) to the National Police Chiefs Council to make the case for an urgent review of all 14,000 police fines issued under coronavirus emergency powers. Other signatories include Netpol, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Jules Carey from Bindmans, INQUEST, StopWatch, Fair Trials, Liberty and the Police Action Lawyers Group.

Meanwhile, Netpol has sent its letter to the National Police Chiefs Council, signed by 654 signatories and calling for the police to stop – before the lockdown ends – the labelling of political campaigners as “domestic extremist”. Government departments have already said they no longer use this categorisation.

Dyfed Powys Police’s chief constable wants the Welsh government to bring in even tougher lockdown deterrents including higher fines for a first offence. North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones has condemned the increase in fines in Wales for people flouting coronavirus travel restrictions, announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford on Wednesday, as a “timid fudge”.

Most of the people wrongly charged under the Coronavirus Act were probably not legally represented, the director of public prosecutions Max Hill QC has said.

The Home Secretary is expected to outline plans for the police to enforce spot checks at peoples’ homes when returning from abroad, with £1,000 fines for failing to quarantine for 14 days

The sunny weather and high temperatures drew many, many people to the coast on Thursday, with local authorities ill-prepared and unable to deal with the crowds. Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative opposition group on Southend Borough Council, said better “people management” would allow them the space to distance. But Labour council leader Ian Gilbert said the police and council did not have the powers to stop people coming to the area. “From the moment the government guidelines allowed people to travel, sunbathe and take unlimited exercise we knew it was going to be extremely difficult to manage the situation,” he said.

Devon & Cornwall Police officers were reported to have spent their morning waking up visitors in campervans who had spent the night at the coast in Newquay.

Wiltshire Police in Swindon saw a substantial drop in the number of coronavirus-related logs created in its control room, which fell to 454 compared to the previous week’s 812. Officers issued 18 fines and recorded nine crimes linked to the lockdown in Wiltshire but made no arrests for the second week in a row.

Meanwhile, in their latest effort to explain the guidelines instead of offering their own interpretation, the National Police Chiefs’ Council refers to the government’s website: “People can spend more time outdoors in England, but restrictions still apply.” However, if you’re looking for a good explanation, you’d better have a look at what Liberty’s Know Your Rights guide.

If you’re having trouble putting all the new lockdown guidelines into practice here’s a handy song with dance moves to help you remember.

SURVEILLANCE

Can contact tracing apps ever work?  The seventh Green Post Corona Talks on the ramifications of Covid 19 contact tracing apps are debated, with researcher Seda Gürses, Laura Sophie Dornheim from Grünen Berlin and internet pioneer Marleen Stikker, from the Netherlands on 27 May: 1-2am.

Covid Contact tracing apps are a complicated mess: what you need to know, Privacy International, 19 May 2020

COMMENT

COVID-19, Consent and Coercion: New United Nations Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement in the context of the coronavirus, Abi Dymond and Neil Corney, European Journal of International Law, 22 May 2020

Under lockdown, we should be increasingly critical about Police use of tasers, Sophie Williams-Dunning, Varsity, 22 May 2020

 

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