Coronavirus and Police Powers: An Update


18 May 2020

By Elizabeth Bradshaw

Previously, we wrote about Police Powers when the Country was first put into Lockdown and the legislation that soon followed regarding Police and the Court’s powers during Covid 19.

The College of Policing issued guidance to the Police Force in order to respond to the Pandemic. The guidance split the regulations into (1)Individuals, affecting movement and gatherings and (2) Premises and Business

These powers related to England and Wales only. Due to the UK now pulling in 4 different ways regarding how the regulations should be implemented, the powers have subsequently been amended.

The police can detain any person for testing that they believe to be infectious, they can close non-essential businesses and restrict a person’s movement and be part of a gathering.

In England exercise or a visit to an open-air public space can now be taken with members of your household or ONE other from another household. You can now carry out associated activities with the buying, selling and viewing of properties. The £60 Fixed Penalty Notice has now been increased to £100, which will be lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days. Police can then issue a fixed-penalty notice of £200 for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence. Refusal to pay will lead to proceedings in the Magistrates Court.

Policing has adopted a four stage approach to:

  • Engage – Ask people why they are out
  • Explain – Officers will educate as to why there’s a risk to the NHS, Public health
  • Encourage – People to go home if they have no reasonable excuse for being out
  • Enforce – Enforcement is a last resort.

It is still illegal to be part of a public gathering. A Fixed Penalty Notice can be given where enforcement is necessary and the four-stage approach has been adopted. Non-payment of the fixed penalty notice can result in Court Proceedings, a possible conviction and further fine and costs.

The Police still have no power to enforce the social distancing rule of 2m, requesting that we avoid the use of public transport or request that anyone in an enclosed space is made to wear a face covering.

The rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are different. Although, in England you can travel, you are still not permitted to holiday in the UK or stay away from home for a night. Crossing the Border into Wales or Scotland (or Northern Ireland, if you were able) will give cause for an arrest. As you cross the Border you are then subject to the laws that Govern that Country. So you can travel to meet one other or go for exercise away from your home, but you should not cross the border and you should return home the same day.

For more information

If you have any issues relating to the enforcement of regulations or any difficulties with the police or any regulatory authorities, do not hesitate to contact Gepp Solicitors, who are specialists in interpreting and representing people in connection with such matters.

Contact us via e-mail or call us on 01206 369889.