25 March Update

In London, a taskforce of 500 officers questioned passengers about their journey in a bid to cut the number of people on public transport. Some commuters were told: ‘we don’t want to see you tomorrow’ as police began a series of checks at rail and tube stations in centra London and the suburbs, ITV reported. The move came as Transport for London announced a third of its workers were off sick or self-isolating. Staff shortages led to further cuts in the number of tube trains and a warning from mayor Sadiq Khan of even fewer in the days ahead.

‘Police confused over enforcement of coronavirus lockdown rules on the British public’, the Telegraph reported. Derbyshire Police launched “proactive” patrols that included cars equipped with loudhailers ordering people indoors. The force said it would not flinch from breaking up builders working too close together, failing to add that most builders are forced to continue showing up – without proper health instructions.

But other forces contacted by The Telegraph are pursuing a more “softly softly” approach, unwilling to fine people caught breaching the coronavirus lockdown.

Durham and North Yorkshire Police launched spot checks on those venturing outside, the local Darlington and Stockton Times reported, to tackle a minority of people who are ignoring stark government warnings to avoid non-essential journeys. In an unprecedented action on key routes and town and city centres, they questioned people about their reasons for not being at home, as senior officers tried to press home the importance of social distancing and isolation due to the Coronavirus crisis.

The move comes ahead of emergency legislation that is expected to give police enforcement powers to issue fines over is expected to become law the same day.

24 March Update

Police officers in Foleshill, Coventry tried to enforce the UK lockdown before their emergency powers came into force by disrupting a barbecue. Police said they tipped over the barbecue and insisted the group, which included a small child and people in their 60s, disperse.

Less than a day before, the prime minister has demanded the closure of all but essential shops, instructing police to deter people from leaving their homes. Gathering in groups larger than two is no longer allowed in order to enforce physical distancing, which is considered vital to stopping Covid-19. Parliament had yet to vote on the Coronavirus Bill, on 25th March.

Police in Crewe have stopped motorists to ask them for the purpose of their journeys as part of the lockdown across the UK in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, Sir Peter Fahy, a former chief constable of Greater Manchester police, said enforcing the lockdown would be impossible if it was solely down to stretched officers and that community and social pressure was key. “They can’t really enforce it,” he said.

23 March Update

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) calls for ‘urgent’ legislation to protect officers from the public. The Federation has called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to introduce urgent legislation to enforce social distancing to protect officers from members of the public who may be infected with the coronavirus.

Exactly what the Police Federation’s demands are unclear from this Police Professional article, but seem to include criminalising failure to physical distance and making coughing at officers an assault. Incidentally any testimony about misuse of spit hoods is one issue we’d like to hear in the coming months.