Powers of UK Police Under Lockdown Orders

The UK’s Prime Minister recently announced stricter rules in imposing “The Health Protection Coronavirus, Restrictions and Regulations enacted by the Parliament. The restriction, which took effect last March 26, 2020, saw the UK government ordering the closing down of pubs, restaurants, schools, and a host of businesses engaged in non-essential trade or services.

 

In addition, PM Boris Johnson reiterated orders for people to stay home and to go out only when buying basic necessities, including medical needs. Outdoor exercise is also allowed but only occasionally, either alone or with members of one’s household. Travelling to report for work if employed by an essential business and where working from home is not possible or doable, are permitted.

Providing care or helping vulnerable persons travel for such purposes is also allowed. Attending public gatherings is strictly not allowed, whilst family celebrations must include and be confined only to members of the same household

According to the British Prime Minister, the police force has been given additional powers in imposing the lockdown measures, primarily intended to prevent the coronavirus from spreading farther. That way, increases of new coronavirus cases will slow down, toward the goal of flattening the coronavirus curve. IThe latter, being the term used to indicate that the rate by which new cases of infections emerge, no longer overwhelms the country’s health care systems.

Although Britons understand the purpose of the lockdown and social distancing measures, many are still confused on what additional powers have been given to the police force. Local police authorities have recently been the target of criticisms, for allegedly overstepping the mark, in policing citizens under the lockdown mandate.

 

Still, it is worth mentioning that many police officers have carried out their tasks by practically begging residents to “walk in our steps” as their manner of enforcing measures aimed at saving lives.

What Kind of Police Behaviors Indicate “Overstepping the Mark”

Lord Sumption, a former High Court judge warned that in allowing law enforcers to overstep the mark, the country is running the risk of turning the UK into a “police state.” He cited using drones to monitor movement of people going out to take walks as an example of going overboard with police powers.

In an interview in the “World at One” program of Radio Four, Lord Sumption said that in some parts, police forces have been stopping people from travelling to the open country to have their exercise. The former judge opines that preference to exercise in the open country is not contrary to regulations. The former High Court judge said that law enforcers do not have the power to impose measures based simply on the supposed preferences of ministers.

Chris Daw QC, who is a barrister and who also writes for The Guardian on criminal justice topics, also gave his opinion of actions regarded as overstepping the mark. According to Barrister Daw, a guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs Council made it clear that the police do not have authority to set up roadblocks or to stop private vehicles at their own discretion.

Moreover, law enforcers are not empowered to insist on inspecting shopping bags just to check if a citizen had actually purchased basic necessities or medical supplies.

Juiceland.co.uk, the sponsor of this guest post, hopes that the information provided above, have in some ways cleared issues about the legality of the UK’s mandatory lockdown orders, and the powers of local authorities in enforcing the related measures.