UK: Policing the virus: all 44 prosecutions under Coronavirus Act unlawful; "postcode lottery" for fines

New powers given to UK police forces as part of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic are being unlawfully and unevenly applied.


All 44 prosecutions that have taken place under the Coronavirus Act have been overturned following a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (although the vast majority of prosecutions under the Health Protection Regulations were found to be correct), while disparities in the issuance of fines have led to claims that there is a "postcode lottery" in enforcement.

See: All prosecutions under new Coronavirus Act unlawful, review finds (The Independent, link):

"All prosecutions under the new Coronavirus Act have been unlawful, a review has found.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) revealed that all 44 charges it had so far checked had been withdrawn or overturned.

Those wrongly convicted include a woman who was fined £660 after being stopped while “loitering” at a railway station in Newcastle.

Several Coronavirus Act cases, including some against children, are ongoing and the number of dropped cases is expected to rise."

And: CPS announces review findings for first 200 cases under coronavirus laws (pdf)

Regional disparities in fines: Coronavirus fines being handed out 26 times more frequently in different areas amid ‘postcode lottery’ (The Independent, link):

"Police in some parts of the country are handing out up to 26 times more coronavirus lockdown fines than officers in others amid a “postcode lottery” of enforcement, figures reveal.

Analysis by The Independent shows stark differences between neighbouring forces, leaving people 10 times more likely to be fined in North Yorkshire than Humberside, or in Northamptonshire than Warwickshire.

National police leaders pledged to improve consistency in the way new coronavirus laws were being applied following a string of early mistakes and miscarriages of justice.

But campaigners said the figures showed a “worrying postcode lottery of policing” that must be addressed urgently after fines were increased to £100 in England.

More than 14,000 penalties have been handed out in England and Wales since lockdown laws came into force."

 

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