The Spectator reports:
Over the past few days, we’ve seen Derbyshire Police send up a drone to film people who were walking alone in the Peak District, Warrington Police announce that they’d sent a summons to ‘multiple people from the same household going to the shops for non-essential items’, the Met in Raynes Park declare that they have been telling off people who were sitting down outside, and Denton Police telling their followers (in a now-deleted tweet) that ‘exercise is limited to around an hour per day’. There are also the small shopowners who have been told either by the police or local authority officials that they shouldn’t be selling Easter eggs as they are ‘non-essential items’.
The UK Police seem to specialise in going over the top.
I mean, the tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform. They are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government’s command. Yet in some parts of the country, the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country, which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences, but only legal regulations – which don’t go anything like as far as the government’s guidance. I have to say that the behaviour of the Derbyshire police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the Fells so that people don’t want to go there, is frankly disgraceful.This is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes.
This is critical. The role of the Police is to enforce the law, not the requests of Ministers. This is why it is important to have clear definitions of what people are allowed to do and not do during the lockdown.
And Andrew Geddis has an excellent piece on the confusion in NZ where different parts of the Govt say different things on what you can or can’t do.