30 July – 5 August 2020 Update

POLICING

On 30 July, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced new coronavirus regulations on social gatherings affected a number of areas in the north of England, including Greater Manchester and large parts of West Yorkshire and Lancashire. This “northern lockdown” began on 31 July and meant that people in these areas were no longer permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens. However, no guidance was available when these restrictions started, leaving the police complaining that they had no time to prepare for enforcing the new rules and have insufficient powers to implement the lockdown.

It was reported that police in Burton in Staffordshire were granted dispersal powers “in response to the coronavirus outbreak which has seen dozens of cases in one part of town”.

In Scotland, extra police were on patrol after a coronavirus cluster forced a new local lockdown in Aberdeen.

There has been further press coverage of warnings about the pandemic triggering widespread public disorder, focusing on a paper (PDF) considered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shortly before pubs reopened in England.

The Metropolitan Police announced their intention to impose conditions on unauthorised road closures during the weekend’s Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March in Brixton, in order to prevent gatherings of over 30 people in breach of the coronavirus regulations. In the event, there were only three arrests – and none were under these powers.

LEGAL

The government announced plans to extend the current rules on wearing face coverings on 8 August.

Five days after the north of England lockdown was announced, the legal regulations underpinning it was finally published by the government on 4 August.

COMMENT

Discretion and fairness should be the beating heart of enforcement – Kirsty Brimelow QC in The Times

RESOURCES

On 1 August, Big Brother Watch published its fourth monthly Emergency Powers & Civil Liberties report, July 2020 (PDF)

20-29 July 2020 Update

POLICING

The latest figures released by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) show that men aged 18 to 34 from ethnic minority groups were twice as likely to be fined for breaching lockdown coronavirus regulations as young White men.

This confirmation of racial disparity is included in a report, “Policing the Pandemic: Detailed analysis on police enforcement of the Public Health Regulations and an assessment on disproportionality across ethnic groups” (PDF) published on 27 July. Although the NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said it was “a concern to see disparity” in a letter sent to Big Brother Watch, he added that “fines were issued to those who, despite officers’ best efforts, refused to follow the rules that we know have saved lives”.

This is a deflection from allegations made repeatedly about racist policing – and as this diary has provided ample evidence of in the last five months, fines were often issued in quite different circumstances to the one Hewitt has suggested. Hewitt also rejects the call for a national review of all FPNs on the basis that the NPCC feels police forces have adopted a “proportionate approach” and fines are scrutinised internally.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, the area that has issued more fixed penalty notices for breaches of coronavirus legislation than any other force in England and Wales, has issued her own report. It confirms that whilst Black and minority communities make up only 3.4% of the population, officers issued 20% of fines to individuals from these communities. It blames outsiders travelling into the area and denies that officers were “particularly targeting BAME” while at the same time stating there is “no definitive explanation as to why BAME feature so significantly”.

Officers from Police Scotland have visited a hairdressing salon in Fife that is refusing to enforce face coverings, as the owner claims he has evidence that coronavirus is a hoax.

Devon and Cornwall’s Police Federation chair claims the coronavirus has ‘weaponised’ spitting at officers.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick irresponsibly said, “people who are not compliant [with the requirement to wear face masks in shops from Friday] will be shamed into complying.” She told LBC that the Met Police will only enforce people wearing masks in shops “as a last resort”. Big Brother Watch reminded her of the exemptions to the requirement to wear a face mask*, especially for those with disabilities. It’s wrong to encourage bullying behaviour. In Scotland, a lawyer with hidden disabilities was harassed and refused entry to shops without a face mask

*(on public transport, likely also to apply in shops – the new regulations are still unpublished)

RESOURCES

The government has published its response to the Home Affairs Committee report from April on Home Office preparedness for Covid-19 (coronavirus): Policing.

 

14-19 July Update

POLICING

On Friday, the Independent reported that more than 100 people have been wrongly prosecuted under coronavirus laws and the number is likely to rise, according to a review. Big Brother Watch revealed that 36 new unlawful Coronavirus Act prosecutions have had to be overturned, and has slightly different figures: 100% of prosecutions, – now 89 in total – under the Coronavirus Act were unlawful. There have also been 26 unlawful prosecutions under the lockdown Regulations. So, in total, 115 prosecutions under emergency laws have been found unlawful.

In addition, around 20,000 lockdown fines were also issued – how many thousands of those were unlawful? We don’t know, because police are refusing to review them.

In various entries in this diary, we have highlighted the creation of online reporting systems for people to denounce their neighbours for alleged coronavirus infractions. Humberside Police, the first to set up such a system, reported that the number of complaints reached 900 a day at its peak. A senior officer said it had been “impossible to attend every complaint” and blamed “‘woolly’ Government guidelines on social distancing had made them open to interpretation”.

On 14 July it was confirmed that wearing a face-covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July. This new regulation is important because the coronavirus death rate is 75% higher than the general population among male shop workers and 60% higher for women working in shops.

Police chiefs have confirmed they will only act as a ‘last resort’ when it comes to enforcing new face mask rules. Devon and Cornwall Police say they will not respond to calls purely about someone not wearing a face mask, whilst Greater Manchester Police say they are “too busy” to enforce the new regulations – emphasising again that throughout the lockdown, the police have always decided for themselves what regulations they regard as a priority.

Policing of the coronavirus rules remains focused on large events and has invariably led to clashes between police and participants. On Saturday (18 July), Metropolitan Police riot officers attempting to disperse an ‘unlicensed music event’ in Hackney in east London encountered physical resistance. Avon and Somerset Police were unable to shut down a rave at a former RAF base near Bath the same night, which was attended by more than 3,000 people. Essex Police were also warning people not to attend a rave near Colchester.

A mosque in Blackburn is under investigation after “around 250 people” attended a funeral service on 13 July, apparently because of confusion over the current government advice and an assumption that “there were no restrictions on numbers if hygiene and distancing measures were in place”.

The Evening Standard reported that West Mercia Police are “on the hunt for three vegetable pickers, including one who tested positive for coronavirus, who have escaped an imposed lockdown” at a farm in Herefordshire. The force “did not reveal if the escaped workers will face fines under emergency coronavirus laws”.

LEGAL

The government finally admitted it failed to carry out a mandatory data impact assessment before rolling out Test & Trace – one of the most significant personal data gathering exercises of modern times, barrister Matthew Ryder says. It took a threat of litigation on behalf of the Open Rights Group for the Department of Health to acknowledge that Test & Trace was deployed unlawfully

“A crucial element in the fight against the pandemic is mutual trust between the public and the government, which is undermined by their operating the programme without basic privacy safeguards,” ORG’s executive director, Jim Killock, told the BBC.

To add some confusion to the coronavirus regulations, there are issues with the division between powers of government and local authorities for the new “local lockdown” regime. Barrister Adam Wagner discussed the question whether under the Public Health Act 1984 there is any power to delegate to local authorities at all, while the BBC asked, What closes in a local lockdown?

 

10 – 13 July Update

POLICING

Data released by the National Police Chiefs Council has confirmed that not one single person was fined by police in England and Wales for breaching quarantine rules requiring people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days, over the first two weeks since these rules were introduced.

The figures also show that between 23 June and 6 July, the number of fixed penalty fines issued in England had fallen to 97 and to 57 in Wales. Up to 22 June, 10 fines were also issued across England and Wales regarding face coverings on public transport regulations. All fines were issued by British Transport Police.

 

Data on the ethnicity of those who have been issued a fine indicate that around one in eight (12%) were given to those identifying as Asian and 4% to those identifying as Black. These figures do not include 16% of fixed penalty notices where the ethnicity of the individual issued with the notice was unknown (17% for England and 7% for Wales). The full breakdown of these statistics is available here (PDF).

Black people in London are four times more likely to be tasered and were twice as likely to get a Covid-19 fine. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, summarised the government’s policy on tackling COVID19, saying: ‘Shocking statistics showing disproportionality require action. This must be a turning point’. The Guardian in an editorial says London’s top police officer is in denial about a counterproductive stop-and-search policy

The next battle over enforcement of coronavirus rules seems likely to centre on the wearing of face masks in shops, which the government has indicated is likely to become compulsory in England and Wales on 24 July. The Sunday Times reported retailers are reluctant to enforce these rules “because they do not want shop staff to have to act as store detectives”. The Metropolitan Police Federation has, meanwhile, called the rules “unenforceable” and said, “we can’t drive around looking for people not wearing masks” (although past experience documented on this blog suggests this is exactly what we may see). In Scotland, where face masks became compulsory on Friday, people must wonder what all the fuss is about: it was reported that there was “extremely high” compliance with the new regulations and no fines were issued.

Meanwhile, the focus of policing health regulations has remained on large gatherings. Dispersal powers were used by South Wales Police on a group of about 200 young people gathered for a party at a Gower beauty spot, while there were confrontations with police in Shoreham in Sussex and West Midlands Police broke up an unlicenced rave in Walsall.

6-9 July Update

POLICING

The police watchdog is launching a review into whether police tactics, such as stop and search, discriminate against ethnic minorities. The IOPC is to look for any pattern of discrimination in use of force.

It comes after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick apologised to Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos, who were pulled out of their car to be searched – and a video of the incident went viral. It certainly helps to be famous when making a case.

On the same day, Home Affairs Select Committee revealed that about one in eight young black males in London were stopped and searched in one month during lockdown, while 80% was released without further action. This is the equivalent of more than a quarter of all black 15- to 24-year-olds in the capital and comes down to more than 20,000 stop and search actions.

Nothing new, unfortunately. Two years ago, police forces were told to address the disproportionate use of stop and search against young black men ago but failed to meet official recommendations in this 2018 report The State of Policing by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. (Ironically, due to the corona crised, currently HIMC “has suspended all inspection work requiring contributions from police forces and fire and rescue services, to enable them to focus on their vital work at this time.”)

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission produced a critical review of stop and search in England and Wales, which demanded change and said “we expect to see improvements within a year”. That was in 2010.

As Netpol continues to point out, every year for decades there has been evidence of disproportionate targeting of stop and search against Black and Asian communities. Research suggests that stop and searches have only a very small effect on either detecting or preventing crime.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland is asking local authorities to help reduce the number of protests and counter-protests, despite his force having a legal duty to protect and facilitate the right to freedom of assembly.

Britain’s national security experts “knew a pandemic of this scale could and would occur”, writes Freedom News, “and instead prioritised criminalising and persecuting refugees, Muslims, climate activists, antifa, and any such dissenting organisations”.

In what seemed to be confusion – yet again – last week between regulations and government advice, the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police said that drinkers would be limited to TWO HOURS in a pub“. Upheaval on twitter forced the police to clarify. Ahead of the weekend’s lockdown relaxation, they were bracing for the impact that would have on the region, but now stressed that they were not planning to monitor pub visits.

The High Court has refused a challenge to the government’s coronavirus measures, which was always likely because the pandemic is a genuine public health risk. The bigger issue has always been the wide interpretation and lack of scrutiny of regulations.

RESOURCES

You know the use of stop and search powers is completely out of control when the BBC is offering advice on your rights

Listen to Katrina Ffrench, from StopWatch and Matthew Ryder QC, a barrister at Matrix Chambers and formerly London’s Deputy Mayor, discussing the problems around stop and search in the latest episode of Adam Wagner’s podcast

Death at Justice: the story of Emanuel Gomes. The story of how Britain’s government handled a coronavirus outbreak within its own walls tells us much about what discrimination looks like during a national emergency.

How overzealous policing of the lock down, the issuing of fines, and the increased use of stop and search, have disproportionately affected black people – by Aniesha Obuobie and Alice Hardy, HJA sollicitors.

See the BigBrotherWatch 100 Days of Lockdown film on how the COVID-19 pandemic has been used to expand the surveillance state, including with drones, social media shaming, citizen reporting, mass mobile tracking, thermal surveillance, immunity passports and automatic number plate recognition.

Five Things You Should Know About Local Lockdowns by Eachother.org.uk, and also: Pubs, Pandemics and Privacy: Five Things You Need To Know.

1-5 July Update

POLICING

This weekend’s relaxing of lockdown rules have led to another round of apocalyptic warnings about nationwide chaos, with police leave cancelled in cities like Manchester and in Leicestershire, where there is a local lockdown in place, a warning to expect “more police than New Year’s Eve” on patrol.

On Sunday, news reports and social media, however, focused largely on scenes of a crowded Old Compton Street in Soho in central London, although the Metropolitan Police said “a small number” of premises closed early due to crowding, but there were “no significant issues” in the capital. Elsewhere there was also reportedly “no significant incidents” in Bristol, slow trade in pubs in Wiltshire, no incidents of note” in Manchester and cautious optimism in Suffolk. Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Simon Cole said there was “huge compliance” within the lockdown boundary as people adhered to guidance by staying at home on Saturday. The Police Federation insisted, however, that it is “crystal clear” that drunk people are unable to socially distance.

Police were, nevertheless, continuing to use dispersal powers to shut down illegal raves, in Birmingham and in Teeside, whilst the Metropolitan Police shut down and dispersed parties in two parks in Hackney.

An increasing number of MPs are supporting the call by Big Brother Watch for a review of every lockdown fine issued in England and Wales amid concerns about “discriminatory” enforcement.

Commenting on a 70% increase in the use of stop and search powers in Camden in north London during the lockdown – 40% of which have been targeted at Black people who make up only 8% of the borough’s population – Katrina Ffrench, chief executive of StopWatch, said, “at a time when police should’ve been adopting a public health approach they chose to target young black males and put them in danger by engaging with them with no PPE despite them being from communities disproportionately affected by Covid-19.”

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has been reported to police for allegedly breaking coronavirus quarantine rules, by going to a pub less than a fortnight after returning from a campaign rally for President Trump in Oklahoma. People travelling from the US are required to quarantine for a period of 14 days from the moment they arrive.

Less than 15 hours before the opening of the pubs, the government finally published the new lockdown regulation – as usual without parliamentary scrutiny. Even more complicated than before because of the many exceptions, barrister Adam Wagner made an effort to review them. The new Regulation 5 bans gatherings of more than 30 people, inside private dwellings and outside. However, outdoor events for more than 30 people are allowed as long as its done safely: for the first time,  safety requirements are included about social distancing. 

Pubs can now open under Regulation 4, while Schedule 2 lists the last remaining premises which must remain shut. Playgrounds can now open, including indoor skating rings, fitness and dance studios, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Worryingly, the Secretary of State for Public Health – Matt Hancock presently – gets the power to close any public outdoor place, or a category of public places, by direction (so basically a public edict)  – no need to do this through regulations.

The people of Leicester have their own regulations which are much stricter, the text was published four days after the lockdown came into force. The 15 June regulations applying to whole of England until the current ease seem to have been replicated for a certain set of postcodes in the area. See Wagner’s thread and comments for more detail on the complications brought by this system.

RESOURCES

In April and May, the issue of oppressive policing of access to parks and public spaces was a recurring theme in this diary. On 3 July, the think-tank Resolution Foundation published “Lockdown living: Housing quality across the generations”, which reports on inequalities in housing stock and in neighbourhoods. It found that younger age groups are more likely to live in a damp home, have no garden or to live in a derelict or congested neighbourhood than older generations. Black, Asian and ethnic minority children in England are also more than twice as likely as white children to live in a home with no garden.

28 – 30 June Update

POLICING

Stricter lockdown measures have been announced in Leicester because of a rise in coronavirus cases in the city. Leicestershire Police immediately stated they don’t know how to enforce the localised lockdown in place for least two weeks. Chief constable Simon Cole said his force was “thinking about all of our options”.

Leicestershire County Council has issued a statement but the “increased restrictions” remain guidance rather than the law until new regulations appear.

Announcing this lockdown, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confused two areas, forcing Bradford Council to tweet a message saying: Just to calm everyone down a bit… There’s no new COVID-19 spike in Keighley.  Matt Hancock confused Keighley with a different area on TV and radio this morning. Please keep maintaining social distance & washing hands so we don’t need to announce a local outbreak in the future.

The police face a call for all lockdown fines to be reviewed. The letter to the National Police Chiefs Council (.pdf) was signed by human rights groups, parliamentarians and lawyers.

Around the country, police forces have been issuing apocalyptic advanced warnings about “Super Saturday”, with pubs due to open this weekend. Police have said they will adopt a zero-tolerance policy in Somerset and are preparing for “a circus full of drunken clowns” in Lancashire. West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who previously warned his force was planning for a huge increase in crime in June and July, has said he fears the threat of “serious disorder”.

COMMENT

The policing of lockdown and the Black Lives Matter protests demonstrates the insidious nature of racist policing in the UK. Strong piece by Michael Etienne.

Laws are … meaningless if they’re misapplied or if they’re applied unequally“. Video comment by Kirsty Brimelow on Dominic Cummings.

RESOURCES

On the 100th day of lockdown, Big Brother Watch has published their June Emergency Powers & Civil Liberties Report (pdf). The report examines the impact of the coronavirus response on civil liberties in the UK throughout the month of June, 2020 – based on our blog Policing The Corona State!

New eBook with the input of 61 Free University Brussel researchers around #COVIDー19 on diverse topics from education to robotics, with a chapter on surveillance and privacy by Rosamunde van Brakel and Paul de Hert, free download, in Dutch though.

25 – 27 June Update

POLICING

Ministers risk ‘considerable unrest’ during the next phase of lockdown easing if they continue ordering tough crackdowns on disorder, police commissioners have warned. Clampdown on lockdown-breaching parties ‘could provoke considerable unrest’, after the police have clashed with residents breaking up raves in Brixton and Tottenham, with people arrested and officers injured. Instead of community de-escalation as the priority, as Netpol suggested, police fuel the fear of a repeat of the London 2011 riots and reportedly had thousand riot officers and dog units on standby this weekend.

More than 200 people have been caught wild camping in the Lake District, with 20 people fined for having a party on one of the fells and others lighting fires on summits. After Lake District residents complained about damage to walls, fences and trees; tents, suitcases and clothing abandoned and rubbish left for others to clear, officials from the Lake District National Park, the National Trust, Forestry England and Cumbria county council and police spent Saturday night “educating” those breaking lockdown rules, prohibiting overnight stays and fining those who refused to pack up and go home.

Understanding it’s impossible to ban Black Lives Matter protests at this moment in time, even though gatherings of more than 30 people are forbidden under the lockdown regulations, police turn to unlawful measures to avoid trouble with public order. To facilitate a planned Black Lives Matter vigil at Keel Square in Sunderland, Northumbria Police issued a Section 14 order forbidding any other public assembly, including counter-protests, to ensure the public’s safety. This is in effect a selective ban that could only have been imposed under s14A with the consent of the Home Secretary and applied to all, David Mead, professor of protest law at the University of East Anglia, has argued. The Metropolitan Police was severely criticised for using the same public order powers against Extinction Rebellion protesters last year.

The confusion between what is guidance and what is the law continues. After ministers ignored police chiefs’ warning over the risks of lifting lockdown measures in England, tens of thousands flock to beaches causing chaotic scenes. Struggling with packed beaches in what was the hottest week of the year so far, a Bournemouth officer said, “They seem to forget the law is to remain two metres apart from people outside your household.” This is, however, government guidance rather than the law. This kind of arbitrary implementation of lockdown measures – something we have documented repeatedly since March – may explain why people now refuse to listen.

The government is refusing to repeal a “draconian” coronavirus law – despite it being used to wrongly prosecute scores of people, The Coronavirus Act has not been used lawfully in a single criminal case since it came into force on 25 March.

Despite the evidence, as discussed in earlier blog entries, Cumbria’s police chief rejects claims his officers ‘dealt disproportionately with ethnic minorities’ during the lockdown, insisting most fines for people from black and minority communities were for ‘outsiders’ (as if that makes it OK).

Stop and search has increased considerably during the lockdown; increasing by almost 50% from April 2019 to April 2020, despite there being significantly fewer people on the streets. Read more in the latest blog from Hodge Jones & Allen, civil liberty lawyers.

RESOURCES

Know Your Rights leaflets by Bristol Anarchist Black Cross have been updated to include the minor changes in lockdown regulations in Wales that came in last week.

Coronavirus lockdown eased: what you can and can’t do from 4 July, The Guardian.

22 – 24 June update

POLICING

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.

SURVEILLANCE

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.

RESOURCES

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.

 

19-21 June Update

POLICING

In Glasgow, on Saturday, the police disrupted a socially-distanced Black Lives Matter protest at George Square, kettling protesters with dangerous disregard for their health, keeping them contained for several hours, before moving protesters to another square and letting them go little by little. Good thread reporting the events by video.

Warnings by police about large public gatherings over the summer solstice weekend were less focused on protests on the streets in London and other cities and more on the perennial dangers of illegal rave culture – history continues to repeat itself during the pandemic, although this time it is the coronavirus, rather than drug use, that was the main concern.

On Friday, Vice UK ran a piece suggesting Britain’s illegal coronavirus raves are impossible to police and spoke to rave organisers about social distancing regulations. One tried to justify no longer trying to enforce them by pointing to “the complete lack of consistency across the Cummings debacle and the many protests happening across the country”.

As CNN pointed out, lockdown parties are organised by and for young people in predominantly working-class cities who face the imminent prospect of another decade of recession and austerity and who “feel like a pause button has been pressed down hard” on their lives. The police have, inevitably, treated this as a public order threat rather than a health risk with warnings they would use drones and dogs, increased road patrols and intensive intelligence gathering to track down illegal gatherings. As has been common throughout the last three months, there were appeals too for the public to report suspected unlawful activities to the police.

Over the weekend West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police made thirteen arrests and there were reports of raves on the Cheshire/Derbyshire border, Liverpool, Blackpool and Wiltshire. Avon and Somerset Police were unable to seize a sound system used for a Stokes Croft street party due to the “potential for serious disorder”.

Meanwhile, the president of the Police Superintendents’ Association told the Independent that Britain is facing a “summer of discontent”, fuelled by tensions exacerbated by “frustration” over coronavirus restrictions on gatherings and the prospect of a severe economic downturn. Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths said, “there’s a real moment in time where this, along with social injustice issues and racial discrimination, could come together to create further problems.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan faced serious questions are being asked about the use of stop-and-search by the Metropolitan Police during the -19 lockdown at the Mayor’s Question Time on Friday.

Despite his force issuing one of the highest numbers of fines, especially in the early days of the lockdown, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said the police had “risen to the unique challenges brought by the pandemic” and had been “hugely impressive”.

On Friday, the government said people with disabilities should “never face intimidation on public transport” over face mask rules, following reports that British Transport Police officers were refusing to let people through station barriers without face coverings, even if they were exempt.

One thing the police is definitely not monitoring is safety concens at the workplace. Construction workers are being sacked and then blacklisted for complaining about the lack of social distancing at Manchester Airport – 13 weeks with no pay. 

LEGAL

Democracy, protests, and Covid-19: the challenge of (and for) human rights. Christopher McCrudden in UK Constitutional Law, also on alternative forms of protest under the new normal.

Does the two-metre rule actually mean anything? “Two-metre rule is not binding and if you don’t stick to it in England, it’s not clear there would be any legal repercussions if your customers caught the virus (though it might be bad PR)” the Financial Times concluded. 

The Times reported over the weekend that the criminal justice system backlog has reached more than half a million cases with expected delays of up to five years for many trials.

SURVEILLANCE

Also in the Times: The government’s coronavirus app failure has left tracing plan in disarray. The National reported that nearly half of the UK public don’t have confidence in private outsourcing company Serco to deliver England’s coronavirus track and trace programme.

RESOURCES

Exploiting a Pandemic, report by CageUK showing how national security actors have used the corona crisis as “an opportunity to give new lease of life to the vast, sprawling architecture of counter-terror.” Cage calls for an end to “the attempted fusion of security apparatus with public healthcare”, noting how existing entanglements of security and public services (e.g. the UK Prevent duty) have “subverted and undermined the practice and spirit of public services.”

A view from Yorkshire by Stop The Scan (9 June): COVID-19 penalty functions added to police mobiles, arguing that policing technology during COVID19 is entrenching, normalising and digitalising the racial profiling and discrimination inherent in practices related to stop and search even further.

Radio Outbreak’s latest podcast: ‘BLM updates, protesters rights, police tactics and surveillance with a testimony of an arrest describing the total lack of COVID19 precautions from the cops’.