Police enforcing the coronavirus lockdown in England and Wales were almost up to seven times more likely to issue fines to black, Asian and minority ethnic people than white people. These figures published by Liberty Investigates confirm what we have been reporting since we started this blog three months ago.
Bias and lack of trust from certain communities may have played a role, as well as demographics, Dave Thompson, the chief constable of the West Midlands, told the Guardian.
‘When prosecutors start to boast that they are applying legislation correctly in 85 per cent of charging decisions, it is a fairly good indicator that something is wrong with the law,’ The Times wrote on Thursday. A quote from Kirst Brimlow, QC made it to the headline: Coronavirus laws expose ‘downward spiral’ of justice system. She also said there is no excuse for continued wrongful charges (discussed in yesterday’s diary entry) and urged for a similar review of the issuing of fixed-penalty notices.
Reporting neighbours to the police for alleged coronavirus breaches can have terrifying consequences. In Cornwall, armed police raided a holiday let in Cornwall on an anonymous tip-off that it was open. They threatened to return even though they found no evidence of it being open.
Scottish Police Federation issued a strongly-worded statement on protesting in the midst of a global health pandemic, after another night of ‘protest and disorder’ in Glasgow on Wednesday. “Those who gather are breaking the law pure and simple”, saying there is NO exemption for gatherings for the purpose of protest (political or otherwise):
Using the virus as a reason to oppress the right to speak out against the Government’s continued flawed policing policies is an insult and an injustice, the campaign group Liberty stated earlier this week, adding that their research had confirmed these powers would harm people of colour (as we have argued here before):
Throughout the pandemic the Government has avoided scrutiny and accountability at every turn. The lockdown regulations which the police have been using to restrict protest are not only unclear – they were bought in unnecessarily using emergency powers, and have not been given any scrutiny in Parliament. This is particularly alarming because these powers could be in place indefinitely.
Now that UK abandons contact-tracing app for Apple and Google model, the NHS is to switch to alternative design by tech giants, Matt Hancock said in the latest government U-turn. Silkie Carlo, the director of the privacy charity Big Brother Watch, said: “This just shows what a mess the centralised data-hungry approach was. Government was wrong to waste precious time and millions of pounds of public money on a design that everyone warned was going to fail, and now we’re back at square one.”
A couple of hours after a House of Lords minister told the Green Party peer Jenny Jones, that there was ‘no need for people on the Isle of Wight to stand down’ from using the app, Isle of Wight Radio are saying we can uninstall the app.
The failed tracking app was being developed by a firm called Faculty, which was a VoteLeave AI firm and is run by a mate of Dominic Cummings. It won seven contracts in 18 months, one of which a £600,000 contract from the Home Office to track terrorist videos online.