Covid-19: Under the new rules when is it right to fine for breaking social distancing?
Now that 2020 has become a year synonymous with a pandemic, the Coronavirus Act 2020 gives the police the power to fine individuals for contravening lockdown laws.
It has been reported in the national press today, that one of the fines has already been rescinded following a joint review with the Crown Prosecution Service and British Transport Police.
This case saw Marie Dinou, who was questioned at Newcastle Central Station, fined £660 for ‘loitering between platforms’.
Following concerns raised by legal professionals, the conviction is to be quashed and police admitted it “shouldn’t have happened”.
The issue in question was whether or not Ms Dinou was at risk of infecting others at the station with Covid-19.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 seeks to regulate many areas of life, which under ‘normal’ circumstances would never attract the attention of the authorities. The Act cannot however account for the necessities of every single person in the country.
It is understandable that many constabularies are unsure about what constitutes an offence e.g. what is classed as essential excursions and what level of action they should take etc. Societal norms have completely changed overnight. Self-isolation and social distancing are at differing levels across the country, with some individuals completely shielding themselves and some having to live life as’ normal’ i.e. for key and essential workers for instance.
The criminal justice system has had to change its approach in relation to the types of cases being dealt with. Differing interpretations and implementation of the Act from the different police constabularies will inevitably show in the final statistics.
These differing interpretations of the law can easily be seen, as police forces are facing criticism at both ends of the scale for either being over, or under active in their area.
The next few weeks and months will see many more fines being handed out and more than likely some being quashed following successful appeals.
For more information on whether a fine that has been received has been misinterpreted, contact us here.
Cartwright King Solicitors has lawyers in most areas of law, and the current information we are sharing is written by criminal lawyer David Hallmark of Cartwright King.
If you have any further queries around the above topic or otherwise, contact the firm here.
All advice is correct at time of publication.