Policing of lockdown in the UK - the need for police reform (starting at the top?)

On 30 March also, retired Supreme Court judge, Lord Sumption, warned against the development of a Police State as a response to the Covid-19 crisis. "Draconian police crackdowns on motorists and walkers during the Covid-19 outbreak are “disgraceful”, a former Supreme Court judge said this afternoon.

Lord Sumption said that the UK was in danger of becoming a “police state” if other forces mirrored the recent approach of Derbyshire police as he warned of forces becoming a “disciplined hierarchy” operating at the command of ministers.

The East Midlands force has been criticised for monitoring walkers with drones and dumping black dye into a popular scenic lagoon to discourage people from travelling. Much of the press coverage of these topics dates from 30 and 31 March 2020.

In mid April 2020 Northants police made their own bid for infamy by suggesting that police officers would begin to scrutinise supermarket purchases to determine if (in their unchallengeable opinion) people had been buying 'essential' goods.
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Policing in the UK - a walk in the park, forever ticking boxes or just seeking publicity?

It is surprising how many police officers can be deployed when there is either publicity or kudos from government ministers in the offing.

There was much competition among senior police officers for who could offer or seek to enact the most laughable interpretation of government guidelines. Among the clear winners was the Chief Constable of Northants - Nick Adderley who provided both entertainment value and also a clear illustration of why senior positions within the police should be more fully opened up to competition from outside the police force.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel moved swiftly to confirm that police would not be checking contents of shopping trolleys, and that stores that had been permitted to stay open could sell whatever they wanted from their normal stock ranges. Thus, B&Q operated an extensive 'click and collect' system telling customers to drive to collect their items (from many miles away?) - and yet with government guidance stating that only essential trips were to be made! A week or so later, B&Q opened their stores fully, which led to customer queues and thousands of car journeys.

Two women from Avon and Somerset Police spent time speaking to a dog walker who was doing no harm whatsoever. Many police forces were severely criticised for their officious interpretation of government guidance during the early phases of the Covid -19 'lockdown' of March 2020. In London, a police motorcyclist told a woman sunbathing alone on Primrose Hill to go home. Walking or sunbathing ALONE carried only a minute risk of spreading infection.

In more normal times, drug dealers operate outside school gates with impunity (and the police ignore parents repeated demands for action), gangs terrorise estates and internet and other fraud runs at around 100 billion per year. Virtually no action is taken against criminal bosses and scammers who operate largely outside the reach of the law. For many years, police ignored what internally they termed 'Paki-shagging' - the organised sexual abuse of vulnerable white girls by men of largely Pakistani origin. Instead, they wasted tens of millions of pounds in laughable enquiries into sex abuse where there was no evidence whatever - again seeking publicity for themselves.

In nearby Exmouth (I live in Sidmouth) a self employed gardener was instructed by police in March 2020 to stop his employment and go home - despite that he had a group of existing clients who were all prepared to socially isolate and not to have any close contact with him - including leaving money (which could be washed to remove any possible virus contamination!) on their doorsteps.

The thuggish actions of especially junior Metropolitan Police officers during the Miners' Strike of 1984/85 defined UK policing for a generation - I can still recall the television pictures of police thugs (bussed up from London) waving their overtime pay slips in the faces of miners who were fighting for their livelihoods. In 1984/85 also the police acted without legal authority to prevent travel in the UK and severely damaged many cars and other vehicles with impunity.

Later, in 1989 and through several enquires right up to 2014 and 2016, both police and government successfully covered up the failings of the police that led directly to 96 fatalities at Hillsborough. Hillsborough is one of the most comprehensively documented examples of the self serving institutional dishonesty that is arguably still present throughout UK police forces.

There was much publicity about a bungled prosecution brought against a woman arrested at a train station - and found guilty of all charges in her absence. Little surprise that the dullards of the British Transport Police were involved - another and quite famous example of their ineptitude has been on this website for years.

In fairness, the police had to deal with an increasing but still small number of people who chose to ignore advice on social distancing as April 2020 progressed.

One factor that led to relaxation of some of the 'lockdown' rules in the UK was the fact that people obeyed the restrictions rather better than scientists thought they might.

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On Studland beach in Dorset there was a severe problem of social overcrowding.

This photo was taken in mid April 2020 by a father and son who were walking alone - except for a police dune buggy complete with flashing blue lights, the occupants of which demanded to know how far people had travelled for their daily exercise.

The tyre marks of the dune buggy were obliterated after a few moments by hundreds of people (pictured) who were disobeying government social distancing guidelines.

While these police officers were having fun on the beach (they were even wearing blue medical gloves), serious crimes would be left unaddressed (owing to lack of police resources). 
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Crowds on Westminister Bridge and including many police officers completely disobeyed social distancing guidelines during a 'clap for carers' session. Mid April 2020.

Cressida DICK the Chief Constable was late severely criticised for her participation.

A spokesman for the Met Police said: "Officers, along with other emergency service workers, came together last night on Westminster Bridge to celebrate the
work of all key workers.

"While many people adhered to social distancing guidance, it appears that some did not.

"We regularly remind our officers of the importance of social distancing where practical, and will continue do so.".

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Tynemouth - Longbeach sands. Once again an opportunity to have some exercise - this time on horseback rather than in a dune buggy.

Thousands of people were disobeying the government social distancing guidelines - as can be seen

Elsewhere in the UK, police set a good example.

A report on Sky News 19 April outlined how police were targeting drugs gangs and making far more arrests during the coronavirus lockdown because dealers "stand out" and are "drawing attention" to themselves. Detective Superintendent Jo Banks, from Sussex Police, said the pandemic presented an unexpected opportunity to tackle county lines - where organised groups move narcotics out of urban areas and into towns and villages..
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0. Index page.

1. Wet markets, abuses of wildlife, organised crime and the origins of the virus.

2. Folk dancing and the importance of other 'super-spreader' events - experience overseas.

3. Scientists, government scientists, and criticisms of government policy in the UK.

4. How many people will die - no-one can tell until the final reckoning.

5. Policing of lockdown in the UK - the need for police reform (starting at the top?).

6. Religious nutcases and despotic governments (often the same people!)

7. Economics vs. Health - the lockdown cure being worse than the disease?

8. Ventilators and cures.

9. Shaggy dog stories - and wash your hands.

10. Reserved.

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