David Davis MP urges police to use more common sense during coronavirus lockdown.


As reported in the Hull Daily Mail:

Yorkshire MP David Davis has said people are coming to him “in droves” to complain about the behaviour of the police during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Haltemprice and Howden MP said constituents were contacting him concerned they would not be able to visit sick relatives – or attend to people in need.

Late last month Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the UK into a state of lockdown, with all pubs, clubs, bars restaurants and shops selling non-essential items forced to close and gatherings of two people or more prohibited.

Following that, police have been given new powers to enforce social distancing rules, including powers to disperse groups of people and the use of fines.

In guidance issued to the police earlier this week, the College of Policing (CoP) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said forces should use “common sense” and that members of the public should not be sanctioned for travelling a “reasonable distance” to exercise.

“Road checks on every vehicle is equally disproportionate,” it said. “We should reserve enforcement only for individuals who have not responded to engage, explain, and encourage, where public health is at risk.”

Derbyshire Police faced a backlash for filming walkers with drones to deter visitors to the Peak District and for dying a turquoise beauty spot in Buxton black to deter tourists from visiting, while in North Yorkshire, police stopped motorists at “checkpoints” last week.

Mr Davis told Hull Live: “The thing people are coming to me in droves about is the behaviour of the police.

“The truth is we are not under house arrest – the aim of this is to control the spread of the disease and it requires a sizeable degree of common sense.

“Fining people for buying unessential goods? That is not what this is about.”

The former Brexit secretary was one of a number of Tories to express concern over the emergency coronavirus bill – now law – which grants police sweeping powers to detain people and isolate them for public health purposes, among other things.

The government has said the measures in the coronavirus bill are “temporary, proportionate to the threat we face, will only be used when strictly necessary and be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation”.

Mr Davis tabled an amendment calling for the law to expire after one year, but it will apply for two with reviews every six months.

“As a country we have always, for centuries, retained the right of the individual to be free of the state not to be stopped by the police in the street to be asked for their papers or to be asked where they are going,” he said.

“We’ve temporarily suspended that but if the police don’t exercise a very light touch it will become impossible to maintain.

“It will be months before we are out of this thing, and the police really have to exercise common sense otherwise we are going to be insisting in parliament that we withdraw some of these powers.

“It’s better that it is done through common sense and proper use than imposition.

“We need to keep the public with us if this is going to last more than 12 weeks, which I suspect it will.”