Month: April 2020

“I’ll make something up” police officer suspended

Lancashire Police have suspended a policeman, quite rightly, after he was filmed ‘threatening to make something up’ so he could arrest a man for breaching coronavirus lockdown laws. Lancashire Police was forced to apologise for the unnamed officer’s behaviour after footage of the incident in Accrington was shared online. Tonight they have confirmed he has been suspended from duty with immediate effect and the force has referred itself to the police watchdog over the clip.  There have been widespread calls for the officer to be dismissed from the force and also prosecuted. There is no place in a modern police force for this type of officer, unless we really have moved into the parallel reality of a 1984 Police State, but it is yet another example of the failures in selection, training and ethics of the current British Police Force which this pandemic lockdown has brought into severe focus…. the great work being done by the vast majority of officers is being undermined, and the reputation of the police tarnished, by a handful of officers who during the Great Lockdown have become self appointed offices of the Ministry of Truth on Airstrip One.

Source : Daily Mail

“https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8238131/Lancashire-policeman-caught-video-threatening-make-arrest-man-suspended.html”

Play the video here

Unlawful powers claimed by Cambridgeshire Police

Cambridgeshire Police officers visited a Tesco in Bar Hill – where they were happy to see “the non essential aisles were empty”. This is despite it being only a day since Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed that police had no powers to check your supermarket purchases. Cambridgeshire Police officers visited the supermarket just a day after Northamptonshire’s chief constable Nick Adderley said his force were only “a few days away” from introducing measures such as road blocks and searching shopping trolleys, as people continue to flout coronavirus regulations resulting in widespread criticism for claiming powers that don’t exist and causing Home Secretary Priti Patel to have to go public to slap down the Chief Constable’s suggestion, which she described as “not appropriate” and “without lawful authority at this time“.

faced a backlash for suggesting officers could search shopping trolleys if people kept flouting social distancing rules and it is disappointing that some Chief Constables are misinforming the public and police about their powers.

Similarly, Gloucestershire police have been illegally stopping customers of The Range in Gloucester, and illegally telling shoppers that their purchases of paint, a sat-nav, an Easter egg, a scratch card, bamboo fencing were not essential. This stems from a failure of the police to consider what is permitted travel.

Similarly other officers have said exercise is limited to 2 people, which is incorrect as it is limited to members of the household.

Permitted travel includes
– going to obtain basic necessities (note – not essentials) and the test of necessities is a subjective objective test, being in the determination of the shopper (subjective) as long as objectively that interpretation is reasonable;
– going to obtain supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household (so if you have a legal obligation in the deeds of your property to maintain your fences, then buying replacement fencing is within permitted purposes, similarly so is buying a sat-nav (functioning), or an easter egg (necessity for Easter) or paint (maintenance)
– shopping for the vulnerable
– seeking medical assistance or collecting medicines
– donating blood
– travelling for purposes of work or voluntary or charitable services where not reasonably possible to provide those services from where they are living (Note that the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 don’t make the criteria of essential for those services (although also note that good practice would suggest that if it can wait, it should, although this is not mandatory);
– funerals.

You are also able to travel to fulfil a legal obligation (and this includes bit not exclusively attending court, satisfying bail conditions or to participate in legal proceedings). (Note the wording says that if you are contractually obligated to do so, you may travel – it does not say only for purposes linked to the legal system!).

Also note that if you share a garden, yard, stairway, garage, outhouse or common parts of a house, then you are within the household definition.

Yorkshire police were also illegally telling householders that they could not sit in their front gardens.

Government lockdown guidelines do not ban anyone from going into their garden. Whilst it is a good idea to maintain social distancing measures if a garden borders a public path or road, there is NO restriction on any use of the garden by its household (but use of a garden with non-household members infringes the law).

After the video was uploaded to Facebook, South Yorkshire Police issued an apology.They said that the officer in the video had been reminded of the lockdown guidelines. Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley, said the officer’s actions constituted an “overreach” (which is code for “illegal”) and without authority).

The truth is that either a) officers have been properly trained and should face disciplinary action for “over-reaching” or b) officers have been advised that they have powers that they don’t have and for that the Chief Constables, as responsible for Force training, should face discipliary action.

Whilst the media have portrayed images of people buying ice-creams, the truth is that if people are our legally taking exercise and choose to buy ice-creams from a shop that is legally open, they’re not breaching the law.

Police were spotted speaking to people on Brighton beach as they appeared to ignore the repeated warnings for staying at home although it is unclear whether the police were simply reminding people that Government advice was to stay at home or whether these were officers “overreaching” as there is at 10th April, no restriction on use of beaches or parks as long as social distancing is maintained.

Elsewhere in the country runners, walkers and cyclists were seen filling crowded pathways in Park, with little apparent regard for social distancing guidance and the police have the power if necessary to protect public health to determine that there is a general gathering of people in that public place and to issue dispersal orders and prohibition notices under s8 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2000

Self-isolation – part of Alien invasion

The Police may have been open to criticism for using drones to film walkers on the Derbyshire peaks, and for unlawfully telling sunbathers that they can’t sunbathe, but it seems they have learned their lesson as a lighter touch regime starts. (As at 6th April, there is no power to disperse you if you’re sunbathing in a park as long as you’re maintaining the 2m social distancing rule – and that means if you’re with your family, then your family must be 2m apart from everyone else. The draconian powers under the Civil Contingencies Act and the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 do permit the PM, or the relevant Secretary of State to create a statutory power to prevent all park use or prevent sunbathing, but there is no sign of the Secretary of State taking this very controversial and courageous step.

Over the weekend a more tolerant attitude has emerged, as witnessed by ourselves in Broomfield Park, Enfield where the police were permitting park users to sit at least 2m apart and enjoy the sun, even though technically some of the park users sitting 2m apart were from different families and therefore “available for dispersal orders under the new law”. This is community policing at its best, encouraging park users to use gardens if they have them or if they don’t have gardens to permit them to use the park subject to social distancing being maintained.

The risk of transmission in an open park is very low because the virus struggles to survive in such conditions and as long as people who don’t live together do not exchange food (wrapped or otherwise) thereby risking transmission via the packaging or play with balls etc if they’re from different families.

The conspiracy theories about self-isolation being an alien takeover might have some slightly greater credence today following the video released by Sandford Police (see below)

A DALEK captured saying “All Humans must stay at home….All Humans must self-isolate ….By Order of the Daleks……..

Furlough Fraud

Furlough Fraud? Not a phrase you have heard of much? This is the latest scam being carried out by businesses where they send their workers home to be “furloughed” but expect them to carry out a full day’s work and then claim 80% of their salaries back from the Government’s new furloughed worker scheme…..and it is almost the perfect fraud for the employer as long as the employee keeps their mouth shut, because it is almost perfectly invisible.

Many retail shops have put all of their staff on furlough, because the government has forced them to close; however these same retailers have started to look at creating online businesses using the very same staff.

This is particularly prevalent in small businesses who already had an online presence and a retail outlet, because it is impossible for the HMRC to identify whether the retail staff (who often ran the online outlets from the shop). In some cases, the retailer has simply sent workers home and told them to start promoting the online business and others have been told to carry out work selling online, but if anyone asks to say that they’re not working and on furlough. In some cases there is already an online promotion bonus available so by being furloughed, the employee will earn more than normal, as the bonus will be paid after furlough ceases.

So how does the fraud work? Why isn’t it detectable?

The loopholes have become apparent because there are no checks on the firm’s turnover. If turnover drops dramatically in order to qualify for the scheme then the the furlough scheme works, but because the Government failed to properly plan for a pandemic and had to rush in measures, this was not properly considered. Instead the Government has tried to focus the public on the possibility of self-employed fraud.

Other businesses which operate from offices using mobile phones and email have moved workers to work from home, with no major impact to the business but have then woken up to the furlough scheme and officially told their workers that to avoid redundancy (which wouldn’t happen in fact) that they have been furloughed. They’ve then been told that they need to keep servicing their clients whilst at home. Cleverer companies have said that you only get paid 80% of your salary unless you fully service your clients (i.e. no change to work, except that you’re working from home) when you keep your full salary. To the outside, the company looks as if it is being nice to workers by paying them their full salary- but in fact, they’re only paying them 20% of the normal salary and yet the company isn’t suffering at all.

Send your staff home. Get 80% of the salary. Then get them to work online where the sales are hardly affected …..and boom….your profits increase dramatically, because your wage bill has dropped from £500,000 per month to £100,000 per month. OK, even if you suffer a 10% fall in purchases, you are still many thousands of pounds better off. ….all paid for by the taxpayer.

Thanks Rishi

Immunity certification gets closer

As we reported last week, the idea of immunity certificates has got closer to adoption.

Britain could roll out coronavirus ‘immunity wristbands or certificates’ for people who have already fought off the deadly infection under antibody testing scheme. Britons who have already have fought off the Covid19 could be given ‘immunity wristbands’ or “certificates” or the equivalent as a phone app. The difficulty with low tech immunity wristbands is the very high risk of forgeries being sold on the black market to allow self-employed to get back to work. Hi-tech wristbands with ID Chips embedded or phone apps utilising QR codes which allow officials to decode the QR code and see who the QR Code was issued to are not thought to be as open to fraud.

Health Secretary  Matt Hancock admitted Number 10 was looking at the move at a Downing Street press conference tonight when he said “We are looking at introducing something like an immunity certificate or a wristband that says “I’ve had it and I’m immune and I can’t pass it on and I’m highly unlikely to catch it”.

Antibody tests are the only ones that can tell if someone has ever caught the deadly infection, and the so-called “murky evidence” about whether immunity prevents a second reinfection  is due to overseas report, mainly from China and Japan that a handful of patients who tested positive subsequently caught corona or who tested as positive, then were released from quarantine as clear, subsequently tested as positive again. One set of about a hundred tests from China showed that around 14 per cent of coronavirus patients tested positive a second time. The vast majority of researchers and immunologists believe this is down to unreliable tests or people bribing their way out of quarantine and are optimistic that people who have had Covid19 are subsequently can become immune to the virus, and can’t be infectious. Most scientists believe the evidence for immunity is convincing and some even claim that it could be life-long as was the case with Spanish Flu.

ANTIBODY TEST
An antibody test is one which tests whether someone’s immune system is equipped to fight a specific disease or infection. For example, if someone catches COVID-19, they will develop COVID-19 antibodies and store versions of these antibodies in the immune system so that if it comes into contact with that same virus again it will be able to fight it off straight away and the virus can’t get a hold to make that person ill or infectious. To test for these antibodies, medics or scientists can take a fluid sample from someone – usually blood – and mix it with part of the virus to see if there is a reaction between the two.  If there is a reaction, it means someone has the antibodies and their body knows how to fight off the infection – they are immune. If there is no reaction it means they have not had it yet.

This compares with the PCR Test (a polymerase chain reaction test or infection test) which aims to pick up on active viruses currently in the bloodstream. A PCR test works by a sample of someone’s genetic material – their RNA – being taken to lab and worked up in a full map of their DNA at the time of the test. This DNA can then be scanned to find evidence of the virus’s DNA, which will be embroiled with the patient’s own if they are infected at the time. The PCR test is more reliable but takes longer, while the antibody test is faster but more likely to produce an inaccurate result. There is also an Antigens Test which tests for antigens which are parts of a virus that trigger the immune system’s response to fight the infection, and can show up in blood before antibodies are made. The key advantage of antigen tests is that it can take several days for the immune system to develop enough antibodies to be picked up by a test, whereas antigens can be seen almost immediately after infection. Antigen tests are used to diagnose whether the patient has flu or Covid19 and is carried out by using swabs.