Youth worker Kusai Rahal is launching a legal challenge against a fine issued by the Metropolitan Police for breaking lockdown rules by attending the arrest of a teenager in his capacity as head of community support at the charity 4Front. His arrest was shared on a video that was widely circulated on social media. His lawyer Sarah Flanagan argues that he had a “reasonable excuse” because he was travelling for work. What gives this incident a particular resonance is that it took place on 12 April, the day that the Prime Minister’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings claimed driving to Barnard’s Castle to test his eyesight was a “reasonable excuse” for travelling.
Complaints that police officers are showing little concern for the safety of detainees (see also yesterday’s diary entry) have been reinforced by the footage that rapper Wretch 32, Jermaine Scott, shared of his father who was shot with a Taser inside his home by police. This happened at the height of the pandemic, but the footage has only just been shared on social media. The family were shielding because Scott cares for his 23-year-old son Shaquille, who is severely disabled with cerebral palsy. In the footage, Scott’s partner, 52, can be heard saying: “Social distancing, please don’t touch me.” She has since been charged with obstruction, which she denies.
West Yorkshire Police say stop and search operations nearly doubled in April 2020 compared to the same month last year because of the coronavirus. The proportion for Black, Asian and minority communities rose from 37.26% in April 2019 to 41.67% in April 2020. The same trend is also noticeable for May. This is quite alarming, given the fact, there are fewer people on the streets.
Meanwhile, the Police Federation’s call for a ban on all protests because on the ongoing health emergency has led to a spate of headlines attributing this to recent changes in the regulations. However, these already prevent public gatherings: as Netpol explained to Vice, the police have implemented them for smaller protests, but have been more reluctant to do so for the last fortnight’s Black Lives Matter protests.
The release of information on prosecutions under both the Coronavirus Act and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations have been hailed by the Crown Prosecution Service as evidence of successful decision-making. However, they also show that 100% of prosecutions under the draconian Schedule 21of the Coronavirus Act in May were unlawful. Nine new cases had to be stopped because there was no evidence they applied to potentially infectious people. This follows 44 cases which were thrown out in April – which were all unlawful.
At least four homeless people have been unlawfully prosecuted for breaking coronavirus lockdown laws, that made it illegal to be outside “without reasonable excuse” – which however does not apply to people who are homeless.
On Monday night, the government was, according to campaigners from Big Brother Watch, “demolished across all benches for dictating the lockdown and evading democratic scrutiny” in a debate on lockdown regulations. The group has collected some highlights from the House of Lords debate.
There is still little public information about Sunday’s ministerial order that face coverings are now mandatory on public transport, as we reported in our last diary entry. Big Brother Watch says: Please remember you can still travel without a mask if you have a reasonable excuse. This includes any disability or if it would cause severe distress.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister continues to offer contradictory messages on what the government sees as important health protection measures. On Tuesday, Downing Street tweeting “you should wear a face-covering when out shopping”, but on Monday Boris Johnson was not wearing one when posing for a photo opportunity at the reopening of the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford in east London.
The Law Society Gazette has picked apart the illegality of Derbyshire Police’s use of drone footage to “send a message” about coronavirus regulations.
Know Your Rights During The ‘Lockdown’ Bristol Defendants Solidarity has updated its guides in response to the latest government changes.