UK Police ordered to enforce
lockdown “without fear or favour”
BAME community more fined than white people in England. Tracing system launched, 14-day self-isolation must for those who come in contact with corona sufferers
Nation special report
LONDON: As coronavirus pandemic situation is fluctuating every day in Britain, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the police should enforce lockdown “without fear or favour” as new data shows that ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately fined.
During the coronavirus daily briefing on Wednesday, HuffPost UK informed Matt Hancock that Dominic Cummings, senior adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was statistically more likely to have been stopped by police while travelling away from his home during lockdown if he was black.
It followed research highlighting that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in England are 54% more likely to be fined under coronavirus rules than white people. Hancock replied: “This is an incredibly important issue and of course it’s vital that the rules, where there is mandation, are policed without fear or favour and fairly and equally according to the evidence.”
On Tuesday, analysis by Liberty Investigates and the Guardian revealed that BAME people received as many as 2,218 of the 13,445 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) under distancing regulations recorded from March 27 to May 11, while white people were given about 7,865.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has published data fortnightly showing the racial breakdown of the fines which indicates that Black and Asian individuals were disproportionately fined, as exclusively reported by HuffPost UK on May 15.
BAME people account for 15.5% of the population in England, according to 2016 population figures, yet received at least 22% of the coronavirus lockdown fines, according to NPCC data, which was most recently updated on 15 May.
This comes after Durham Police confirmed that it is examining further information and complaints in connection to Cummings flouting lockdown rules.
The force said on Monday that they received further information and complaints from the public and they are reviewing and examining the new information.
Cummings travelled to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family – apparently because he feared he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son – while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.
Tracing system launched
Meanwhile, people who come into close contact with a coronavirus sufferer will be told to self-isolate for 14 days as the Government launches its tracing system.
NHS Test and Trace – seen as key to easing the restrictions –rolled out across England on Thursday with the help of 25,000 contact tracers, while an accompanying app is still delayed by several weeks.
It comes amid a growing revolt within the Conservative Party over the Prime Minister’s chief adviser’s controversial trip to Durham – with dozens of backbench Tories criticising his actions, and at least 38 calling for him to quit or be sacked.
Boris Johnson has announced the launch of the contact tracing programme, which will see people with coronavirus having their contacts traced in a bid to cut off routes of transmission for the virus and control local flare-ups.
Under the plans, anyone with coronavirus symptoms will immediately self-isolate and book a test, preferably at a testing centre or, if necessary, for delivery to their home. Their household should start a 14-day isolation period too.
If the test proves negative, everyone comes out of isolation. But if the test is positive, NHS contact tracers or local public health teams will call, email or send a text asking them to share details of the people they have been in close contact with and places they have visited.
The team then emails or texts those close contacts, telling them they must stay home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Amid reports by Sky News that some contact tracers do not have their basic systems up and running yet, the Department of Health insisted that the “vast majority of our 25,000 staff have completed their training”.
Corona related latest situation
- The toll of deaths linked to the virus rose to almost 48,000, while at least 188 frontline health and care workers have died after contracting Covid-19.
- Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said it was “good news” the Government has “backed off the claim that it was making last week that we have a world-class test and trace system ready to go from June 1 because we clearly don’t”.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he has asked scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule to see if it can be reduced in an effort to help public transport and the hospitality sector.
- Mr Johnson promised to look into a condition of the immigration system which has left people with no state financial support during the coronavirus crisis.
- Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, closed to new admissions to “avoid being the cause of an outbreak” after tests revealed a number of staff with no symptoms had coronavirus.
- Mr. Johnson has said all non-essential shops in England can reopen from June 15 after he closed them with the imposed lockdown on March 23.
- Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Friday that mandatory self-isolation is being introduced from that date to prevent a second peak of coronavirus being introduced by travellers from abroad.