The Coronavirus Act gives police new powers to detain any of us they think might be infectious.
They can also force you to be tested for the virus and answer questions about travel history and who you have been in contact with. And you can be quarantined without a time limit in an unknown location.
All without the approval of a judge.
If you don’t comply or give false information you could be fined and end up with a criminal record.
Alongside the new law, the Health Protection Regulations ban public gatherings and non-essential travel, introducing a UK-wide ‘lockdown’. And the police can give out fines and use force if you don’t obey.
Giving the police such extensive power to interfere in our lives is particularly concerning for certain communities, especially people of colour.
But the Government hasn’t made clear exactly what these new powers are, leading to incidents of police acting unreasonably and possibly unlawfully. This makes it impossible for people to know how to comply with the new rules and stand up to an abuse of these powers.
Giving the police such extensive power to interfere in our lives is particularly concerning for certain communities, and especially people of colour, who are already over-policed and are likely to bear the brunt of these new measures.
It is likely too that people seen as “high risk”, such as older or disabled people, will be subject to these powers.
And if certain groups are viewed as being “high risk” of spreading coronavirus, such as people without regular housing or those in densely populated areas, these powers might be increasingly used against people based on their income or race, reflecting existing patterns of discrimination in policing.
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