26-27 May Update

POLICING

The anger over the actions of the Prime Minister’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings has not subsided. West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, has claimed to have received intelligence that people are using Cumming’s controversial actions as an excuse for alleged breaches of lockdown regulations.

The BBC has managed to obtain details from Durham Police of the fines that it has issued, which intriguingly indicates that two other people – from different households – who travelled together from London to County Durham during lockdown were given fixed penalty notices. The force is currently considering whether to take action against Cummings over a similar journey.

The Canary has used this diary as a resource to look at what police across Britain were doing on those days when Cummings was in Durham.

Channel 4 News has challenged the claim by Education Secretary Michael Gove that Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle was “consistent” with police advice at the time.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly dismissed calls for an official inquiry into Cummings’ conduct.

Meanwhile, the National Police Chiefs Council has refused to review all the fines handed out under coronavirus laws and said anyone who believes they had been wrongly penalised “can challenge it in court”.

However, as Patrick Ormerod, a solicitor at London human rights firm Bindmans, has pointed out, there is no mechanism for everyone to challenge these fines in court unless they refuse to pay and may – or may not – subsequently, face prosecution.

Black, Asian and minority communities in England are 54% more likely to be fined under coronavirus rules than white people, according to an analysis by Liberty Investigates. Commenting in the Guardian, Netpol said, “For years there has been extensive evidence that police powers are used to disproportionately and unfairly to target black and Asian communities, so it comes as little surprise that these figures indicate racial profiling has continued and even accelerated under the lockdown”. This is why it is so vital that we hear from people who have been fined, particularly if you have been targeting because you are vulnerable or a from a black, Asian and other minority community”.

In partnership with a number of other campaigning groups and lawyers from Doughty Street Chambers, Netpol has released an urgent call-out asking anyone who been issued with a coronavirus fixed penalty fine and would be prepared to share the details to get in contact

In response to the as new data showing that ethnic minority groups are disproportionately fined, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the police should enforce lockdown measures “without fear or favour”.

In the north of Ireland, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of fines issued by police, from nearly 400 to only 30 in a month.

Three people were arrested after an illegal rave was held at a nature reserve near the centre of Leeds, police have said. Sound equipment was also seized. In Plymouth, Devon & Cornwall Police were reported to have dispersing large gatherings at two popular local beaches.

North Yorkshire Police issued another 52 fines over the bank holiday weekend. In Gwent, police are continuing to enforce border restrictions between England and Wales, issuing two people with warnings after they travelled to Gower to go surfing.

In Cumbria, sixteen Lake District campers were issued with £100 fixed penalty fines for overnight stays.

In Derbyshire, a drone operator was spoken to by police after a flight over Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire church. He said he had believed it was acceptable because the town centre was so quiet during the coronavirus crisis.

SURVEILLANCE

COVID-Tech: Surveillance is a pre-existing condition – we should not forget that for many communities, surveillance is not a COVID-19 issue – it was already there.

RESOURCES

INQUEST has put together guidance providing answers to some of the immediate questions asked by bereaved families whose relatives have died from Covid-19 & includes essential information about how to protect your rights.

In the first episode of the Big Brother Watch Podcast, Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, talks about the changes in policing in the UK with the use of the new emergency coronavirus powers with the two editors of this blot, Kevin Blowe (Netpol) and Eveline Lubbers (Undercover Research Group).

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