Chief constables claim that in their hurry to publish data on lockdown fines, forces have understated how many were given to members of black and minority communities, but deny they were trying to hide a deeper problem of racism in policing across England and Wales.
Amnesty International has called on police in the north of Ireland to suspend the use of spit hoods after ‘an admission they provide no protection from Covid-19’.
A holiday homeowner has complained to the police watchdog after he said armed officers from Devon and Cornwall Police were sent to check he was complying with lockdown rules.
One area of constant confusion since the lockdown began is the difference between the criminal law rules (where not following them can lead to a criminal conviction) and the government’s guidance (which is advice but not law). Human rights barrister Adam Wagner on the latest changes.
Piers Corbyn, the anti-lockdown campaigner and brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, says he plans to fight two counts of breaching Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations at a trial scheduled for October. In successfully seeking his unconditional bail, Corbyn’s solicitor argued that no attempt had been made by the Metropolitan to enforce lockdown rules at the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in central London.
Allowed to open from 4 July, bars, restaurants, hairdressers and churches face a minefield, privacy campaigners have warned, BigBrotherWatch amongst them, after the government instructed them to record people’s contact details in case they need to assist with test-and-trace efforts. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is “assessing the potential data protection implications of this proposed scheme and is monitoring developments”. However, no methodology is in place, and others say this is just ‘advisory’ ‘guidance’ – not the law.
The focus on data protection concerns has drawn attention away from more expansive human rights considerations, academics Marion Oswald and Jamie Grace say, pleading for robust and rolling oversight function and model of proportionality review to uphold a fair balance between the rights of the individual and the interests of the community in situations of uncertainty and crisis.
Unsurprisingly for regular readers of this blog, Britain features prominently in this new Amnesty report: Policing the Pandemic – Human rights violations in the enforcement of COVID-19 measures in Europe. Conclusion: Police enforcing COVID-19 lockdowns across Europe have disproportionately targeted ethnic minority and marginalized groups with violence, discriminatory identity checks, forced quarantines and fines.
Watch: COVID19, Protest & Law, a film about how #COVID19 legislation has been used & abused by UK police to disrupt protest, arrest campaigners & undermine #HumanRights. Read full RealMedia article here.