More than 50 people wrongly charged under 'draconian' Coronavirus Act
The UK government stands firm on its refusal to repeal the “draconian” Coronavirus Act, which came into effect in March and has led to more than 50 people being unlawfully arrested.
A review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has revealed that not a single lawful arrest had taken place under the act since it came into effect in March.
According to Press TV, the creation of “unnecessary” new offences, which have been used against children and vulnerable people, has been strongly decried by human rights lawyers and campaigners.
In one instance, a woman was fined £660 for a crime she had not committed five days after the Coronavirus Act became law. Charges have so far been withdrawn or overturned for 53 people and more cases are being reviewed.
Director of legal services at CPS, Gregor McGill, opined that proper application of the law was improving and errors had been “significantly reduced” in May.
Questioned by The Independent as to why the CPS did not stop police using the Coronavirus Act, given the 100 percent rate of unlawful prosecutions, he replied, “We can’t tell people not to charge under the act but we’ve issued legal guidance to the lawyers so they understand the precise circumstances where it can be used. It’s not for the CPS to stop charging offences; it’s to make sure that it’s appropriate.”
Documents seen by The Independent show that dozens of cases under schedule 21 of the act are still going through magistrates’ courts across the country.
This gives police forces the power to direct “potentially infectious persons” to a suitable location for screening and assessment, with license to use physical force should they refuse.
Under the act, refusing a direction, escape or providing false information is considered a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1,000.
The Coronavirus Act was drafted at a time when it was generally perceived that the threat came from overseas and dedicated “places suitable for screening and assessment” where infectious people could be detained have never been set up.
A further three sets of laws have since been introduced to enforce the coronavirus lockdown, face masks on public transport and a two-week quarantine for people entering England.