3 – 4 June Update

POLICING

Solicitors from Hodge Jones and Allen have written to the Metropolitan Police, on behalf of Netpol, London Black Live Matters, UK Student Climate Network and Extinction Rebellion, to express their concerns about the policing of protests under the coronavirus regulations. The letter argues that in particular, the use of Regulation 7 fails to provide adequate protection to the right to free speech and the right to protest (article 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

David Mead, Professor of UK Human Rights Law at the University of East Anglia, discussed the effects of new regulations on protest in great detail in a series of blogposts, and also submitted evidence on it to the Joint Committe on Human Rights. In short, he wonders why a BBQ of six friends on the riverside would be allowed, while a similar group of political activists cannot hold a twenty-minute vigil 2m apart on the steps of a Town Hall to mark the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “That seems an indefensible distinction, one that does not properly recognise the value of free speech and peaceful assembly, nor protect it.”

On Wednesday it was reported that police turned up at the home of a Black campaigner who has shared details of a BlackLivesMatter protest on social media. Officers barged their way in and questioned the individual, was shielding and therefore unable to attend the protest, for 20 mins on details of organisers and attendees.

The latest coronavirus rules, from Monday 1 June, are wide-ranging and complicated. The Guardian published a guide on what is allowed in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Bristol CopWatch has also updated their ‘Know Your Rights during Lockdown’ leaflets to reflect the recent changes.

In Wales, the control on the border between England and Wales remains as tight as ever. Dyfed-Powys Police has turned away 1000 cars in two days.

The new regulations on travelling require the transportation services bringing people into Britain to tell travellers to go into a 14-day quarantine or risk a fine and prosecution, and inform the government of their address – and there is nother complicated list of exceptions to digest. Adam Wagner also points at the serious powers for the police to enforce this, though the Met Police have already said they won’t be getting involved (£).

LEGAL

The Good Law Project (Rook Irwin & Sweeny) wrote to Secretary of State for Health raising concerns over “unconstitutional” use of emergency powers to introduce new criminal lockdown laws without Parliamentary scrutiny or debate.

A minister just declared what the law will be, including policing activity inside our homes and forcing us to wear face masks. As Adam Wagner points out this is law-making by ministerial fiat.

SURVEILLANCE

NHS test-and-trace system ‘not fully operational until September‘. The Guardian reveals that the chief operating officer told staff programme would be imperfect at launch.

Police forces are drawing up plans to do their own contact tracing, because they don’t trust the national system to keep sensitive information safe. They are afraid sharing details could smoke out undercover officers for instance. Kent police have already told officers not to give details of work contacts to NHS Test and Trace.

What is contact tracing and what does it mean to me? Bindmans Lawyers explains. 

How Digital Contact Tracing for COVID-19 Could Worsen Inequality, Amos Toh, Human Rights Watch

COMMENT

We can’t breathe What connects the most brazen forms of state violence against black people and the struggles of BAME coronavirus patients is systemic racism. Gary Younge for The New Statesman.

Didier Bigo: Covid-19 tracking apps, or: how to deal with a pandemic most unsuccessfully. Contact tracing apps add “another political problem, that of an enlarged surveillance apparatus, without solving the underlying one: the lack of an effective public health strategy”

RESOURCES

Big Brother Watch has done another excellent report Emergency Powers and Civil Liberties, May 2020, using the Policing The Corona State blog as a resource. The Report discusses the lockdown, the emergency laws, the Coronavirus Act, contract tracing, and more.

Webinar Mon, June 8: “Good” or “Bad” the Covid 19 Tracker & Surveillance Capitalism. Should we worry about the “State” and others knowing more & more about us? Orgnised by Shout Back Discussion club, 8:00 PM.

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