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Police Accused Of Abusing Power Whilst Enforcing Virus Lockdown

UK police officers have been told to take a “consistent” approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.

Guidance to officers calls on forces to “coordinate” efforts and emphasises the importance of professionalism. It comes amid criticism of the way some forces have handled the new measures.

A former Justice of the Supreme Court said one force’s use of drones to film walkers in the Peak District had been “disgraceful”. But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said police forces were doing a difficult job and being sensible about enforcing social distancing measures.

It comes as a further 393 people with coronavirus have died in the UK – the biggest daily total so far.

A total of 1,801 people have now died with the virus across the UK, including 367 more in England, 13 in Scotland, seven in Wales and six in Northern Ireland.

Some 28 people, aged from 19 to 91, who died in England did not have underlying health conditions, NHS England said.

New guidance was issued to police on Thursday when officers were given powers to fine people who gather in groups or refuse to return home, following social distancing measures introduced by the government last week. The document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, says:

Communities must receive a “consistent” level of service from officers as well as a “single style and tone”
Police should keep an “inquisitive, questioning mindset” when finding out why people are outside
New enforcement measures should not be used if people are vulnerable and cannot safely return home

However, some forces have adopted different approaches, particularly around the issue of driving. Derbyshire Police used drones to film people parking their cars for walks in the Peak District.

Lancashire Police issued 123 enforcement notices over the weekend, while Cheshire Police summonsed six people for various offences, including travelling to purchase “non-essential” items.

On Monday, Lord Sumption, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, said the actions of Derbyshire Police “shamed our policing traditions”.