In a liberal society, should police be using roadblocks and drones to enforce the virus lockdown?

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The Guardian reports that the police are using roadblocks and drones to enforce the virus lockdown:

Derbyshire police tweeted drone footage taken near Curbar Edge, in the Peak District, and said they had checked the numberplates of vehicles in the car park and found that some cars were registered to addresses in Sheffield, a 30-minute drive away.

…In North Yorkshire, police said they would set up checkpoints to determine if drivers’ journeys were essential. The move was being introduced to ensure motorists are complying with government restrictions, North Yorkshire police said.

Officers will be stopping vehicles and asking motorists where they are going, why they are going there, and reminding them of the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” the force said in a statement. The checkpoints will be unannounced and could be anywhere across the county.

For context, the new rules are here in four pages of the government instructions. There are further details of what establishments can remain open and ones that must close here – which are quite elaborate. I don’t envy a police officer having to remember all that.

My own view is that I am comfortable with the rules and with the police taking such measures to enforce them.

If you agree with the need for the rules, then there has to be some visible policing of those rules. Otherwise they are pointless and increase disrespect for the law.

In the case of the Peak District, if people are coming from Sheffield and touching posts, gates and turnstiles; then they could equally come from Manchester and touch the same posts, gates etc, thereby spreading the disease between major metropolitan areas.

My experience of the police, albeit the Thames Valley constabulary, at reasonably regular close quarters is that they are generally sensible and tolerant. Decisions about charging are generally made by custody sargeants who, I have found, are generally remarkably wise and well-informed.

I think we need to remember why this is all being done. Just look at the latest daily death graph (from Worldometer) for the disease in the UK:

Now have a look at the same graph for Italy:

So we can see that the UK has had 578 deaths so far, with yesterday bringing the highest grim total of 115 new deaths.

Italy was seeing about 100 deaths a day around March 10th, and has now increased to the 700s and 800s per day, totalling 8215 deaths so far.

The same pattern can be seen in Spain, the USA and France (but with a less stark graph for Germany).

It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that we are probably, and sadly, at the cusp of an even more major exponential increase in the daily death rate.

In my view, police enforcement action, of the sort seen in the Guardian report, is justified under John Stuart Mill’s harm principle:

…the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

Perhaps I am looking at the world through the rose-tinted spectacles of Thames Valley Police, who I consider a generally reasonable police force, but that is my ten-penneth worth.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Really beautiful day in Devon, getting a taste for how a depopulated world feels, but only walking… having an accident in a car or on a motorbike would be very risky given how awash hospitals may be with the virus and would only waste NHS resources. Devon and Cornwall police have said they will be stopping walkers and drivers to see why they are out and about but have yet to see a police car on my daily walk. Local Sainsbury’s have cracked down on social distancing and you have to stand away from the till whilst they ring up your bill and then walk in to collects your goods. Stocks were fine and through time pretty normal. Did see three youths kicking a football down an empty road, they were all over each other. Devon and Cornwall have some of the lowest levels of the virus despite Torbay schools having a few incidents early on, be interesting to see if they force us into total lockdown just because London is overwhelmed (to stop an exodus). With Boris and Charles with the virus, no escaping it.

  • Paul Holmes 27th Mar '20 - 1:00pm

    Agree with you -as someone who lives 15 minutes drive from Curbar Edge and often walks there -as with the Derbyshire Peak District as a whole where I and a friend normally try to do a days walking every week. It’s only a little over a week ago, but seems like a month, that I was watching two hares ‘boxing’, the first time I had seen that in real life as opposed to in a natural history film.

    I’m feeling very confined but understand the need for such controls absolutely. Plus of course there is the oft quoted J S Mill and the ‘Harm principle’.

  • We actually don’t need a full 18-month lockdown. Once you get it down to a manageable level a.k.a bending the curve, you can keep a boot on it via Korean-style mass testing and tracing while imposing mandatory quarantine on ALL international arrivals. But until then, a strict lockdown must be enforced.

  • John Marriott 27th Mar '20 - 1:25pm

    At this precise moment YES!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Mar '20 - 1:47pm

    Paul , as with me, some of us on here, are of the similar view, that is that the Harm, Principle, is the key, to the supposed lock of lockdown!

    Heavy handed police are dangerous. We do not have them on the whole. We need ongoing, in my view, a sensible and staunch approach to law and order on irresponsible behaviour, dangerous driving, an example, the public smoking ban too, fox hunting, also, where rights are in balance with that principle articulated via Mill.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Mar '20 - 2:30pm

    The erosion of civil liberties, when it occurs, will tend to be very gradual, unnoticed until it perhaps becomes permanent after the crisis. If the police get accustomed to stopping cars and questioning drivers in beauty spots, it is possible that this could become more usual afterwards, just as Stop-and-search became problematic in London because of over-use though it had useful functions.

    An immediate example of the gradual drift can be seen in the official advice to which Paul posts the reference. There is a requirement stated, that we should only take !one form of exercise a day’. Yet in the statutory instruction, which is in Statutory Instrument uksi/2020/250/made, there is no such requirement. All that is stated, in section 6 2 b, is that one of the ‘Reasonable excuses to leave home’ is to take exercise either alone or with your household. There is nothing there to deny you the right to travel to your exercise, nor any specification of the distance you may cover or the length of time you may be out.

    I suggest we don’t discount these insidious changes on the grounds that this is an unparalleled crisis. The policeman speaking on The World at One said the application of the rules should be sensible. I agree, but not all policemen may be sensible in practice, and meantime the general public is afraid and accepts restrictions even if common sense shows that their actions can have no effect on the spread of the virus. As with the elderly gentleman quoted who had been afraid to drive his car to a pleasant spot, just to sit in it and have his picnic lunch.

    Where civil liberties are involved, we Liberal Democrats must surely take the lead in pointing out the danger of non-sensible application of barely known rules.

  • During the miners’ strike I was working on a defence contract that involved crossing the Thames into Kent for weekly meetings,,,My team took up two cars with 3 /4 in each; every time we crossed we were stopped by the police. I still resent that approach which was for purely political ends; unlike the current action. Thatcher’s ‘extra army’ lasted no longer than her tenure as PM. When this lot ends so will the police action.

    However, let’s not forget that it was the irresponsible action of those who thought that the recommendation shouldn’t apply to them, that brought about this compulsion. May I suggest a look at the life/times of Mary Mallon might put advice/compulsion into perspective.

  • Sue Sutherland 27th Mar '20 - 4:36pm

    The question of why we shouldn’t drive to take a walk was sorted out for me by one of my daughters who lives in Australia who had heard a discussion from New Zealand about this. If you have a car crash you will need the emergency services who are already stretched by trying to meet the need of corona patients. You also may not realise you have the virus until you collapse in your car, because of the way the illness progresses. So you may die on your own rather than receive help. If you are reported missing then again the emergency services will get involved.
    This is why we’re being told to walk from our home. There are a lot of areas where this may result in there being too many people to comply with the 2 metre separation. In this case it might be better for you to abandon your walk and try some other form of gentle exercise.

  • Paul Barker 27th Mar '20 - 4:40pm

    We could do with those Roadblocks in London, while the Traffic is lighter, Main Roads are still busy, at least they are in Peckham.
    I am not entirely convinced that The Capital is in Lockdown, it seems more of a gradual slowdown.

  • The situation is worse than I thought; Gove is speaking for the government…

  • I think we need to give the police and the Government an opportunity to iron out any kinks.
    I get that people who live in more built-up areas find it difficult to find green spaces to walk. But the problem is that if they say it is ok to travel to get the exercise you are then going to have the problem of people travelling from the cities to the coastal communities (especially when the weather warms up) Hospitals in more coastal regions will not be as geared up to deal with an influx of coronavirus patients if residents end up seeing higher infection rates, the same is true for rural communities.

    The last thing the NHS and emergency services needs to see is busy roads and road accidents because a large amount of traffic is heading for coastal and rural communities.
    I suspect they want stringent rules in place now so people are aware of the rules before the weather starts to warm up.

    I know those city dwellers are going to scream that this is unfair and it is ok for us who live in the rural communities who have wide-open countryside but remember we have trade-offs living in rural villages, it is harder to get supplies, you cannot get a Takeaway for love nor money where I live (never have) and our Hospitals tend not to be as good as those in the cities

  • @Matt

    I appreciate the points you make. The police do now have the powers to break up groups. So that covers things like lying on the beach or being in a park in a group, having barbeques etc.

    The issue is travel and I understand the government wanting to discourage it as much as possible.

    There is the issue of road accidents but as I said you have to look at the alternatives. And people couped up together brings greater risk of domestic violence and that is probably potentially of greater drain on the police and NHS. I did hear that the greatest amount of violence is on a Sunday evening in the home as people get ticked off with each other at the end of the weekend.

    Is it irresponsible for people to take a 30 minute trip from Sheffield into the countryside occasionally? I have to say I am struggling with that.

    Was it sad that a man was prevented from taking a trip where he would have been totally on his own to lift his spirits? Yes and probably overall a greater risk as.depression is a major drain on the NHS.

    Either exercise outside properly separated is a risk or it is not and if it is then we shouldn’t be doing it locally.

    There are also a lot of things that are still allowed that are probably a greater risk than traveling to the countryside. Shopping online for non-essential items. Your traffic accidents, virus spread from the delivery drivers and reports of the separation rules etc. being flouted in warehouses. And printed newspapers which are not essential at the moment and carry similar dangers.

    I’m sure that we might well get a spate of stories in the tabloids this weekend on how people were being irresponsible but this will only be 0.0000001% and then calling for police crackdowns etc. which sticks in my throat a bit and takes us further towards a wartime police state I don’t want to overdo that but we do, especially as liberals need to guard against it.

    But to be clear people should do everything to minimise their risks in everyway for their own interests and to reduce the burden on the NHS.

  • There may be good arguments against driving to beauty spots for your daily walk, but the need for the emergency services to attend a car accident isn’t one of them. Most accidents happen in the home:

    And according to the National Police Chiefs Council, it’s not actually illegal to drive somewhere for a walk:

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Mar '20 - 11:41pm

    That is the point, Nick B. and Michael 1 (thank you), it just is not illegal to drive somewhere for a walk. Anyone can consult the Statutory Instrument issued on March 26. called Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) to find out that there is no such restriction, and neither is there any stipulation that you can only take one hour each day for your legal exercise. There is risk everywhere, but very little to be incurred by driving your car to a place with a view and sitting in it to have a snack and perhaps listen to the car radio before stretching your legs. And acceptance of rules that are only invented by officious individuals serve in the first place to alarm people (I have heard two imagined stories of worse that is to come) and secondly chip away at our rights to lead free and independent lives, while always regarding the similar rights of others and the duty not to cause harm.

  • I think part of the issue is mindset: many people are in a “holiday” frame of mind: we’re at home, it is a nice sunny day, let us go somewhere interesting/nice. Rather than take-on the real reasons why we are mostly at home and not at work.

    I’m also not convinced about the obsession with the death rate metric. Fundamentally, I think we need to know the numbers of cases being admitted to hospital and the deaths from that group of people (are there deaths from CoVid-19 outside of hospital?), to see whether the death rate is actually increasing or remaining at a constant % of admissions.

  • Jane Graham Reed 28th Mar '20 - 8:01am

    If you are going, isolated in your car, to a remote area for a refreshing walk I see no rational for you being stopped by the police especially if you wear gloves in case of contaminating gate posts etc. The chances of you spreading infection in this situation are very low except of course talking with the policeman!

  • Jane Graham Reed 28th Mar ’20 – 8:01am……..If you are going, isolated in your car, to a remote area for a refreshing walk I see no rational for you being stopped by the police especially if you wear gloves in case of contaminating gate posts etc. The chances of you spreading infection in this situation are very low except of course talking with the policeman!…..

    This is the mindset that caused the ‘compulsion’ in the first place.. There is no problem with ONE person/family driving to a beauty spot; the problem starts when LOTS of people decide to do the same thing..
    How would you you decide who, and how many people, should visit a beauty spot at the same time?
    When I lived in Dorset there was a nearby wood which, in the spring was a riot of colour with bluebells. As a boy, I used to pick an armful for vases; no problem..However, with the increase of cars, more and more people had the same idea..Guess what?

  • Roland
    I don’t think many people are in a holiday frame of mind. I think people are in a “I’m cooped up, I can’t stand it and I deed some fresh air and more space than my garden” frame of mind. Keeping people restricted to small spaces, isolated to a household and sometimes completely alone is not a minor inconvenience. The mixture of repetitive boredom and isolation creates paranoia and is very unnatural. We lock prisoners up and restrict their movements as punishment. If they are particularly troublesome they are put in solitary confinement. Soldiers who step out of line are confined to barracks and so on. Isolation and confinement can have very profound effects on people physical and mental health. I admit it, after I’ve sat in my garden, gone out to exercise and having occasionally gone to the shops day after day I’m not a happy bunny. In fact I’m already going a bit stir crazy and I am not feeling a great deal of empathy. After this is all over what you are going to find is that we have solved immediate pressure on the NHS by increasing problems caused by inactivity, isolation and confinement. The longer it goes on the worse it will get. So stop with this idea that it’s being treated like a holiday by selfish people.

  • Glenn 28th Mar ’20 – 9:13am………………. I admit it, after I’ve sat in my garden, gone out to exercise and having occasionally gone to the shops day after day I’m not a happy bunny. In fact I’m already going a bit stir crazy and I am not feeling a great deal of empathy………

    Prior to the pandemic that was called “retirement”..

  • Expats
    Very revealing and very Grandpa Simpson.

  • Glenn 28th Mar ’20 – 9:30am…Expats Very revealing and very Grandpa Simpson….

    Prior to the pandemic that was called “humour”..

  • Expats
    I apologise. I misunderstood.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Mar '20 - 9:55am

    expats 28th Mar ’20 – 8:52am
    At a guess you were invaded by Spanish bluebells, which were considered the floral equivalent of grey squirrels, leading to calls for extermination.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Mar '20 - 10:00am

    Glenn 28th Mar ’20 – 9:13am
    Overcrowded prisons, detention centres and cruise ships are breeding grounds for virus infections, leading to calls for early release. Is that what you want?

  • Richard Underhill 28th Mar '20 - 10:06am

    Sue Sutherland 27th Mar ’20 – 4:36pm
    and a man has completed a marathon in his back garden, without wearing out the lawn.
    His son made a finishing line out of toilet rolls.
    Should a soldier appear and say “Too silly”?

  • Richard Underhill 28th Mar '20 - 10:10am

    Katharine Pindar 27th Mar ’20 – 11:41pm
    “rules that are only invented by officious individuals”
    Name the guilty parties!
    Cummins has been filmed running across Downing Street.

  • Richard Underhill
    I think you misunderstood. I wasn’t making a point about prisons. I was making a point about the effects of lockdown on healthy people. People on here are moaning because occasionally an individual or a family who have been confined to a small space and overfamiliar surroundings try to take a breather. As I keep saying, and I will keep saying, lockdown is not a minor inconvenience or a bit like a holiday.

  • @Simon Banks

    As for the fundamental Liberal issues: Liberals should support restrictions that are necessary to save lives…


    Forced dieting and exercise for the obese? That selfishly use up NHS resources and this would save tens of thousands of deaths a year?

    Traffic speeds limited to 20mph to save thousands of killed and seriously injured?

    If there is another outbreak tracing of those that have been near someone infected using mobile phone and bank records as Korea did successfully?

    I don’t know. I pose the questions. But sadly it’s easy to state the principle or quote Mills. The tricky bit is the application in practice!!!

  • Glenn 28th Mar ’20 – 9:46am…Expats I apologise. I misunderstood……..
    No problem. Count your blessings. My attempt at humour might not have been great but, the last time comparable restrictions were in place, you’d’ve had Arthur Askey and George Formby to put up with..
    “Hello playmates”..”Turned out nice again!”…Aaaaghhhh!!!

    Richard Underhill 28th Mar ’20 – 9:55am…expats …At a guess you were invaded by Spanish bluebells, which were considered the floral equivalent of grey squirrels, leading to calls for extermination….

    They were definitely English…..The scent and shape are entirely different..

    BTW..Sorry for delay in posting; unlike some others, I can only post 3 times in any 4 hour period..

  • @ Richard Underhill “Cummins has been filmed running across Downing Street.”

    Yes, I saw. Let’s hope he keeps running indefinitely.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Mar '20 - 3:49pm

    expats. your answer to Jane Graham Reed seems patronising. I am sure she is capable of working out for herself that if she happened upon a beauty spot where other people were beginning to congregate she would have to wait for her walk or go a bit further away. We here are all abiding by the rule of not congregating with other people, whether outdoors or in a town. She was making the point that she saw no rationale for being stopped by the police. Neither do I. There is no legal requirement for them to do so, and some of them are being more officious than reasonable. I am pleased to see that other commenters here seem to be agreeing with this. And Glenn is right to emphasise how difficult and tending to reduce good health being perpetually stuck indoors is for people, even if they are not stuck in over-crowded flats.

  • Expats
    No problem. I’ve had the same thing with the comment flood warning and having occasionally breeched the guidelines. I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little tetchy and not great at spotting humour at the moment.

  • Glenn 28th Mar ’20 – 4:14pm…Glenn, humour keeps us all going..

    Normally my wife and I walk 5-10 miles daily, I play bowls/golf twice weekly so we are both fairly fit….We bought a labrador puppy a month ago but, as the vet cannot give him his final jab, he’s not allowed to go out for walks,,,He is a looney in the garden and has bitten the tops off most tulips and daffs…I doing my best training wise but it’s early days…He’s driving us both mad which is probably keeping us sane???
    Senior management (SWMBO)is finding me lots of jobs so the days are fairly full. and I’ve got my Sansa playing the ‘Journey Into Space’ episodes from my childhood …

    Anyway..Best of luck to you and all on here..

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar '20 - 12:34am

    I wrote a comment here several hours ago which fell victim to flood policy, and has been lost altogether! No matter. I just wanted to say how pleased I was at the thought of expats’s new labrador puppy, all ‘looney’ in the garden (Ahhhhh!) and to tell you about my walk up the nearest little fell beyond Cockermouth last night. There were scores of lambs (Ahhhhh!), some frolicking with their little jumping runs along with their friends, some cuddling up to each other in twos or threes, the tiniest hovering on shaky legs round mother, the mums baahing loudly. Some of the little ones stopped still with their friends to have a stare at me, unafraid, while mothers, who know better, sometimes looked askance at me in protective mode. As I came down the hill in the dusk all were quiet, and the lambs were settling down together in little groups, or nestling close to mother. I said goodnight to them quietly, and felt very peaceful.

    (expats since we are in friendly mode, would you tell us why you use that particular nom-de-plume, and in what part of the country you live with your wife and new puppy, please?)

  • We can require everyone to wear a facemask when going out, like all East Asian countries are doing. They, the countries with on-ground experience with SARS and Covid, all of these countries credit face masks for reducing infection. If average citizens cannot have N-95 masks, they can wear surgical masks and even cloth masks if there are no surgical masks. At the same time, the government can kickstart a program to mass produce N95 and surgical masks.

    One study found that wearing a mask reduces infection by 68%, while washing hands can only reduce infection by 55%. Doing a combination of wearing masks and gloves and washing hands can reduce infection by 91%.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar ’20 – 12:34am…..(expats since we are in friendly mode, would you tell us why you use that particular nom-de-plume, and in what part of the country you live with your wife and new puppy, please?)………..

    Katharine, the fact that our views on these matters are different doesn’t stop us being amicable to each other; even in the same post. I have close friends/family whose political/social views are diametrically opposed to my leftie liberal outlook, My son’s first fiancee’s family were old school Tories who hunted (she gave him a hunting cob for his birthday). They never married but we are all still friends.

    ‘expats’ has been my ‘handle’ for years and we lived in France for 15 years before returning to the UK for family reasons.
    We now live on the Suffolk coast within an hour’s drive of both our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are under a mile from the sea so, in normal circumstances, the dog would give us even more reason to walk this lovely part of the UK..

  • I support the police having more powers on a temporary basis, but they must be sensibly and sensitively. Compliance with the social distancing rules will work best when the public willingly comply because they understand why.

    It’s right they break up groups of people playing catch in the park, or making it hard for solo joggers to keep a distance, and I heard reports of groups of Italian students sneaking out at night to attend house parties. That’s the kind of behaviour that the police should be stopping, and of course the kind of behaviour our broadcasters should be discouraging.

    I was chilled by the Derbyshire Police’s tweet. Not just because it felt like they were enjoying their new powers a bit too much, but because the inevitable backlash muddies the message. It distracts from stopping the most dangerous behaviour, and undermines the legitimate public health message that we should all aim to stay fit – physically and mentally. Remember high blood pressure and heart problems are big risk factors for becoming seriously ill and in need of hospital treatment. Keeping fit is responsible and not everyone has a garden. I agree we don’t want people driving excessive distances because of the theoretical additional risk of traffic accidents etc, and that’s a good message to get out there, but you don’t do it by shaming a couple walking a dog in apparent accordance with medical advice. It just looked like Derbyshire police had a new drone and they wanted an excuse to go somewhere nice to play with it.

    I don’t accept the excuse for public shaming was that the couple’s car was registered to an address in Sheffield. For all they know that dog belonged to one of their elderly parents who lived locally and they had just delivered food and other essentials to them, then took the dog for a big long walk as far away from everyone else as possible, so it will be fine in the garden for the next week or so.

    I’m particularly concerned by the commonly shared notion that the virus will spread to villages only by visitors from the cities. With the exception of very remote and island communities, outsiders are not the danger. The bigger threats is from your own neighbours who went left the village to get a hair cut, or the football or cinema in the last few weeks.

  • Yeovil Yokel 29th Mar '20 - 9:50am

    Thomas: my wife and I arrive in Thailand in early January as fears about the spread of Coronavirus from China were growing. My main source of news was, and is, the BBC News website, and I checked for information about how we should best respond to the disease threat. The authoritative advice from senior epidemiologists in the UK was that face masks which didn’t seal the mouth, nose and eyes were ineffective against the virus, whereas handwashing and/or wearing disposable plastic gloves was essential; there is much that is still not known about the disease, but to the best of my knowledge that advice has remained the same for more than two months. We were surrounded by increasing numbers of Thais and other SE Asian people wearing face mask, and my wife (who is Thai) and her daughter joined in so as not to stand out – it is important to realise that there are strong cultural pressures on people from that area of the world to conform, and that wearing face masks to protect against urban air pollution is considered normal anyway.
    So, whilst you may be correct when you say that “One study found that wearing a face mask reduces infection by 68%, while washing hands can only reduce infection by 55%….”, I think it is beholden upon you to state the source of this study (which flies in the face of all the evidence I have seen), otherwise face masks may become the next item people begin panic-buying (which we saw in Thailand back in January).
    You say: “….all of these countries credit face masks for reducing infection” – again, please provide solid and detailed evidence.

  • Phil Beesley 29th Mar '20 - 3:10pm

    Why do army workers, when supporting civilian services, dress up in “camouflage” outfits?

  • @Phil Beesley “Why do army workers, when supporting civilian services, dress up in “camouflage” outfits?

    Because that’s what they’ve got?

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar '20 - 8:35pm

    expats. thank you for your informative reply, and I hope you have been out enjoying the sunshine with your puppy today. I don’t know your part of the world, except for one delightful trip to Aldeburgh. I am pleased to know that you are a ‘leftie liberal’ as I an, and of course as you say one can have close and amicable connections with people of very different views.

    I did when I lived in Oxfordshire, and my partner and I even managed to get tickets to a Hunt Ball in Blenheim Palace. Of course we loved the setting and the dancing, and I discovered my partner could enjoy G&Ts till dawn without getting drunk! But the (church) connection lapsed after I moved to the more Liberal-Democrat friendly surroundings of Milton Keynes. Thanks for reviving the memory!

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Mar ’20 – 8:35pm…………expats. thank you for your informative reply, and I hope you have been out enjoying the sunshine with your puppy today. I don’t know your part of the world, except for one delightful trip to Aldeburgh……..

    Yesterday was gale force NE wind sleet showers the garden was freezing; today is lovely and calm with a clear sky; British weather….
    Aldeburgh is nice and their June festival is usually fully booked but not much chance this year so lots of refunds..Southwold used to be lovely too (Adnam’s Brewery) but now about half the town is second home territory…My leftie views again.
    This area has lots of decent country pubs and, as an ex (thereby hangs a tale) CAMRA member I like decent ale…

    Sounds like a travelogue but I’ll add the bit about ‘aliens’ landing in Rendlesham Forest (near Aldeburgh). Most likely the lighthouse or house lights shining through trees; but why spoil the UK’s Roswell Incident..

  • Daniel Walker 30th Mar '20 - 9:49am

    @Phil Beesley “Why do army workers, when supporting civilian services, dress up in “camouflage” outfits?

    Sorry, Phil, my previous answer was a bit dismissive. While they are wearing camo because their day-to-day uniform is of that pattern, you do have a point that, when providing Military Aid to the Civil Power that pattern might be seen as threatening.

    However, they would then need a whole extra set of uniforms for MACP purposes, which still identified them clearly while not making them look like civilian police, presumably!

    Ultimately, they need a uniform, and any uniform would make them look like soldiers, so I can’t really see the point of getting new ones in specially.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Mar '20 - 1:33pm

    Strong statement from Lord Sumption (? spelling) on World at One just now, stressing the dangers to our liberties of the excessive use of police powers in response to the wishes of politicians, and particularly condemning the actions of the Derbyshire police. I would like to see our party backing his statement straight away, and will write a couple of emails to try to further this. Everybody who agrees with the Lord’s statement, please do the same.

  • The Derbyshire police aren’t just playing with their new drones, they’ve dyed the water in a quarry black to make it less attractive to visit! I’ll say it again, these powers will stay in place years longer than they need to be. There’s a lot of people who would like their local parks empty of an evening, a lot of local authorities that will be tempted to reduce crime by locking down hot spots and a lot of people reluctant to give up the extra powers they’ve been granted.

  • Also have you noticed that we’re already getting the one rule for thee and another rule me thing. Prince Charles, who has every advantage of help and space, is out of self isolation after one week. This is despite testing positive. Everyone else even suspected of carrying the virus is told to self isolate for 14 days at the least. I hear his parents are in the vulnerable group, too.

  • Paul Barker 30th Mar '20 - 2:25pm

    The water inquestion is not just poisonous but likely to give you burns if you touch it. That hasnt stopped idiots swimming in it in the past, its a seperate issue from the Virus.

  • @glenn you only have to self isolate for 7 days after infection if u r living alone.
    Anyone living with u has to self isolate for 14 days, that is because it takes 7 days to show the start of an infection and then 7 days to get over the infection.
    Dont think the Prince of Wales is being treated any differently

  • @Glenn – I had heard about dying water somewhere a ‘less attractive black’ in a bid to stop people coming for a nice view. But instead they’ll come for a very unique, time limited photo! The Corona virus equivalent of twitchers flocking towards the sighting of a rare bird.

    This is yet another example of the desire by some to be seen to be doing something without stopping to think if it’s going to help or hinder the cause. What a waste of time and money. Are Derbyshire police trying to win some kind of ‘most short-sighted and out of touch with reality policing’ award?

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Mar '20 - 8:50pm

    Glenn is quite right, I believe, in his fears, and so is the noble Lord who spoke out at lunchtime on R4. with words which I hope will be constantly repeated. His fears of ‘mass hysteria’ may I am afraid already be beginning to be realised.

    Even in my own Cumbria! Late this afternoon I drove about six miles out of Cockermouth to walk up a little fell which is very popular with local people. When I parked as usual at the side of the road near the gate to the footpath, I was disturbed to find that the wire fence there was now adorned with notices – plastic plates securely fastened to the fence with the message painted in black on each, GO HOME, and even one, ‘Selfish twats, go home!’ I guess the only selfish person about may be one of the local farmers who will never like anybody coming to walk near or on their land.

    Mine was the only car there, and I was the only creature out on that fell this afternoon. If there had been any other person near, I could easily have kept two metres from them. People need to be told that there is NO LAW against walking in the countryside, either alone or with your ‘household’, and NO LAW to tell you not to drive to a walk, or for how long you can walk or how far you may go. It is reasonable to consider one’s own and other people’s safety, as on any country walk, and to keep the social distance currently ordered. But you are free to have the refreshment of the outdoors, and many people will need the kind of relaxation that I was able to enjoy this afternoon. (Only, my thoughts were not as free as I wanted, since I was writing this indignant comment in my head much of the way up that peaceful little fell!)

  • Richard Underhill 31st Mar '20 - 9:56pm

    “the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset (?) police on Radio 5 Live”
    He was also on BBC2 Newsnight saying that the police are not using drones in his area.
    He declined to criticise the police chiefs of other areas.
    Today there was a call for consistency. Police and Crime Commissioners are being asked to make national policy. Do we really need them? Here in Kent the first one we had was an electoral survivor from the previous system. She did attend our parish council AGM, but gave an unfortunate interview to television, in which she admitted to not knowing a detail of how the police worked (an operational matter, reserved to the local chief constable).
    I understand from an MP in our region that we tried to stop the coalition from creating this additional bureaucracy, delayed it for 6 months, but eventually had to concede.
    There is now a committee of Police and Crime Commissioners busily liaising with each other. Their main role is supposed to be liaison with the public at a time when operational officers are in numerical decline. So, is this a role that conservative MPs wanted to be rid of?

  • John Littler 1st Apr '20 - 3:45pm

    There are so many unsafe activities taking place, especially in London, that the government appear to want to be seen to do something, even when they are banning activities that are completely safe. This so long as people are sensible.

    If people are not sensible, then there is no amount of Police that will make them act sensibly. But if people are prevented from safe activities then there is more of a chance they will carry out unsafe ones.

    I have been banned from fly fishing, even though I can carry it out without being anywhere near anybody, without gates, pinch points, huts and exchanging anything. Nor do I need parking machines, or to stop for lunch on the way. All excuses given for the ban. It is out of proportion.

  • @John. I agree, they seem very motivated by being seen to be doing something, and while it might appear they are aiming to discourage potentially dangerous activities, the net result of closing more and more pubic open space is that people without gardens or living in very leafy suburbs are squashed closer and closer together, which is the exact opposite of what we’re supposed to be achieving.

    It takes a special kind of privilege to take a photo of a mainly empty car park with five or six cars all spread out and post it on social media as evidence of people not taking social distancing seriously. I wonder if any of them have so much as walked past a tenement, never mind visited or lived in one.

  • Is it all to be a distraction from the failure of this incompetent government to introduce testing remotely anywhere near the scale of Germany ?

    And is it a distraction from the cruel austerity cuts to social care and the chaos of the Health & Social Care Act, 2012 ?

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