Wendy Chamberlain: I used to be a Police Officer, now I worry about them being given more power

I, like virtually everyone else in this country, am taking this lockdown business very seriously. In fact, I think my anxiety about  Coronavirus is going to skyrocket in that intervening period between the most restrictive measures ending and the advent of a cure or vaccine. My husband is not quite as high risk as you can get, but he’s well on the way and when I read the small print, I’m high risk for complications from Covid-19 too. So I’m actually quite happy being at home at the moment. I realise that I am very lucky to be able to spend that time with people and dogs that I love, and to have a garden that I can sit out in. I am very aware that some people are on their own, or trapped with abusive partners, or are stuck in a flat.

It’s really strange to say that I haven’t been to a shop in a month. No more just nipping up to the Co-op to get rice when you realise you haven’t got any and the curry has been bubbling away in the oven for hours. It is really strange to think how well we have adapted to what are colossal infringements on our freedoms. News reports from intensive care units are more effective than any law enforcement approach.

But I do feel slightly uneasy whenever I see police vans heading into the park across the road from our house. Whenever I have been there, virtually everyone is keeping their distance. Ok, so there is the very occasional strange looking household walking together but the rules are pretty much enforcing themselves. And if I saw someone sitting on a bench, I’d think that they needed a rest. Not everyone can walk uninterrupted for an hour or so.

Even if they were very polite about it, I would still bristle a bit if a Police Officer were to ask me what I was doing in the park when the answer, given that I am usually accompanied by my dog, would be obvious. I think that is an ok way for a liberal to feel. We should always be aware of who holds power over us and assess whether they are using it appropriately. And if they aren’t, then they need to be challenged through the relevant complaints procedures.

Police suggesting they might be having a nosey through people’s shopping trolleys to look for “non-essential” stuff, even if their bosses backtrack later, or telling a family they can’t play in their front garden., are clear examples of when their approach goes too far.

This week, Lib Dem MP and former Police Officer Wendy Chamberlain wrote in the Metro about how she was worried about how they exercised their new powers.

What should they be doing?

Just as the air raid wardens kept communities safe during the Second World War by making sure people observed the blackouts, now we rely on police officers to keep us safe from coronavirus by making sure we observe the lockdown. Like everyone on the frontline of this crisis, our police are doing a very difficult job in extremely difficult circumstances. They not only have to enforce the new emergency laws, but also tackle other types of crime.

But we must be very careful to ensure that these powers are not used in a discriminatory way:

These emergency powers must not repeat the problems of Stop and Search, whereby a black person is 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person. Even worse is suspicion-less ‘Section 60’ Stop and Search: a black person is 47 times more likely to be stopped and searched under that power than a white person, and the use of that power has skyrocketed in the last three years. As I know from my experience in the police, disproportionate use of Stop and Search powers erodes trust in the police among BAME communities. At a time when police desperately need the trust and cooperation of the communities they serve – to implement the lockdown and flatten the coronavirus curve – we cannot afford for these new powers to be used in a way that undermines that trust.

She says that the Government needs to

urgently provide the guidance and resources that police officers need to understand how to use the emergency powers they have been given.

It is really important that we, as this country’s liberal party, make sure that even, or actually especially during times of crisis, state power is used proportionately and in a liberal manner so I was delighted to read Wendy’s article.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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48 Comments

  • John Marriott 12th Apr '20 - 9:01am

    Yes, Caron, your mentioning how you might react if approached by a police officer in the park and being asked what you were doing, when you were clearly exercising your dog, reminds me of a joke cracked by comedian Jasper Carrott many years ago when I saw him at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln. The trouble is that all officials can sometimes appear quite wooden. I guess that they have set phrases they are required to use and some may lack the subtlety to adapt them to circumstances. As in all walks of life, it takes all sorts.

    Back to Mr Carrott. I suppose that he probably used it at the start of his act wherever he happened to be performing. It went something like this. “It’s great to be in Lincolnshire again. I knew I was in the county, because, when I crossed the border, I was pulled over by a police officer, who looked at me and my empty car and asked; ‘Are you the driver of this vehicle, Sir?”

    Stay safe and stay Liberal.

  • Simon Ackroyd 12th Apr '20 - 9:02am

    About 35 years ago people regarded the police as “friends” spoke to them on the street as part of the local communities. Slowly the police stations were locked up and officers were difficult to find. To get into a police station getting to report an offence meant ringing bells and waiting. So people started losing interest and co-operation diminished. Heavy handed tactics isolated this group from the people they were supposed to help.
    The COVIC 19 virus gave an opportunity to repair some of this, but the opposite has occured. Even the Home Secretary seems to think a police state has to be avoided!

  • Phil Beesley 12th Apr '20 - 10:47am

    ‘Z Cars’, the TV drama which arguably first portrayed the new world of policing using patrol cars, appeared in 1962 so the golden age of policing was on the wane for quite a while before 1985 or so. Even ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ caused a few upsets in the 1970s by showing fictional instances of racism, insensitivity to victims and offenders and oppressive behaviour.

    Simon Ackroyd is correct, of course, that closing police stations or putting them on short hours has led to increasing centralisation and a sort of cultural ignorance of communities in which officers serve. Unpopularity of police centralisation has been demonstrated in consultative referendums about ‘county service’ mergers.

    ‘Broken window’ theory is discredited by some experts but it contains elements of truth. Bigger is not always better and ASBOs merely labelled individuals as minor offenders, rather than addressing offences and behaviour.

    Were things improving before the Covid-19 epidemic? I was sceptical when PCSOs appeared but they are active in my neighbourhood and their role comforts some people.

  • If the situation gets worse then may well see the police wearing helmets with masks and visors, giving them a rather sinister appearance. At the same time I can’t see people taking the lock-down for more than a few more weeks, especially those at low risk despite the continuous “educational” videos of victims shown on the TV… and then there is Boris’s experience with near death, may well end up with a socialist or even socialist-religious leader at the head of the Conservative Party, with knock-on effects for policing who may be forced to wear twee pink uniforms to emphasize their friendliness. Can’t help thinking that if we had electronic voting we could have a referendum on when the lock-down should end, given you either have lots of deaths from the economic mess or lots of deaths from the virus…

  • Dilettante Eye 12th Apr '20 - 11:59am

    I’m no defender of the police, because I too have seen too many incidents of officious ‘numptiness’ , from uniformed officers of the leuuur.

    But on this occasion I get the dilemma they face.

    I used to love Bank Holidays, but these days I self isolate at home for the day, with a beer a book, and some factor 15. I’d love to go to a local beauty spot, but unfortunately about 5,000 other folk have the same great idea, and a traffic jam occupies a huge portion of the day.

    And we’ve all seen the Bank Holiday pictures of beaches and parks full to brimming with families, flying Frisbee’s, dogs, toddlers exploring things they shouldn’t but do anyway, ice creams passed around, snogging couples, impromptu shared barbecues, ‘can you pass me back my beach ball mister?… you get the picture.

    So, of course it looks absolutely bonkers as we watch ‘plod’ pouring water on the barbecued steaks of a lone couple on the beach who are half a mile from any other carbon based life-forms?

    But in these viral transmission times the absurdity would be to let that lone couple have their harmless fun,…

    Why?

    Because one harmless couple on the beach would soon multiply by 10,000 other harmless people having the same harmless good idea of harmless fun on the beach, .. and suddenly you have a Bank Holiday scenario,… with families, flying Frisbee’s, dogs, toddlers exploring things they shouldn’t but do anyway, ice creams passed around, snogging couples, impromptu shared barbecues, ‘can you pass me back my beach ball mister?…

    Plod hasn’t turned overnight fascist, (ok maybe one or two have!), and isn’t trying to spoil your individual harmless fun, they are trying to avoid the normal and acceptable fun of an average Bank holiday, turning into , a full-on perfect Covid transmission beach party, innocently had by all.

  • Cannot believe most of these comments, loss of a minor piece of liberty against saving your life seems to only point in one direction. It is all very well speaking in wonderful liberal terms, but some reality please. (I am a key worker current off because of my age but will return by the end of the month).

  • marcstevens 12th Apr '20 - 2:23pm

    I agree with Theakes. I think the Police are doing a great job and have no problem with them using powers. There is nothing illiberal about keeping people safe, stopping an airborne disease from spreading and consequently killing people. The SN police teams were all cut back by the last coalition and Conservative govts meaning there are fewer of them on the streets getting to know the communities they serve. And as for the flippant comment about anti social behaviour, come and live in my council block and you’ll experience what life can be like at the lower end of the social scale. When an anti social group moved in, they had more rights as perpetrators of noise nuisance, abuse and threatening behaviour than the rest of us the victims. So I am all for more police powers.

  • Barry Lofty 12th Apr '20 - 3:09pm

    I have to admit I am with the previous comments with regard to police powers during this unprecedented crisis we are all facing. Sadly we do need a pretty tough approach at the moment as far too many people seem quite oblivious to the dangers for themselves and more importantly for NHS staff who are putting themselves on the line for all of us. I also have to agree about anti social behaviour having endured many years of being on the wrong end of this curse in an earlier life.

  • To be fair to the police, they have been around but never interfered with my daily walk, sea front was very busy this morning and judging by the number passing my house going in that direction even more so later in the day.

    More worried about politicians getting a taste for bossing us around than the police, very hard to get politicians to relinquish power once they have a taste of it.

  • Credit, then, to Police Scotland for appointing a well known top Human Rights QC to oversee their use of emergency powers……… “Human rights lawyer to lead scrutiny of emergency police : ww.scotland.police.uk › whats-happening › news › 3 days ago – John Scott QC has been commissioned by Chief Constable Iain Livingstone QPM to review Police Scotland’s use of new emergency powers.”.

    It’s also right to praise Nicola Sturgeon for her resilience and strength in meeting the challenge of this awful virus. As a Scottish resident I’m impressed with the way she has conducted herself and with the dignified composed way she has dealt with questioning at her daily press conferences..

  • theakes

    Like you I cannot believe the fuss & comments about the police, seems like an excuse complain / posture over human rights for the sake of it.

    What of course we will never know is how many infections / deaths the heavy handed / overbearing hand of the police will have saved.

  • John O 12th Apr ’20 – 6:37pm………………
    What of course we will never know is how many infections / deaths the heavy handed / overbearing hand of the police will have saved……………

    For those complaining a comment from NZ,,,, “we seem to be getting off lightly with only about 1283 cases reported with 273 recovered, 4 in critical care and 2 deaths, a 70 year old woman with underlying COPD and a mid 90’s lady…..
    The up to date analysis shows clusters of infection that proves how virulently the virus hops from one of us to the other.
    A Saint Patrick’s day party in Matamata, the base town for Hobbiton, has spawned a cluster of about 50 victims, a wedding in Bluff Southland produced about 80 and one or two other groupings of infection prove that distancing is the clue to safety.”

  • Tony Greaves 12th Apr '20 - 8:30pm

    Super piece, Caron. I think there are two problems, which by and large are not that people are not behaving sensibly – they are. The first is that Government politicians and (I fear) some top health professionals are using the line that loads of people are not doing what they are asked as a diversionary tactic. Ie to divert media attention away from their own incompetence (or at least failures) on things like testing and PPE (not to mention not having a plan of action ready for such a pandemic). The second is that it is an early move in what will be for many a major effort to use this crisis to further entrench power and wealth among those (individuals and corporate bodies) who have them at the expense of those who have not. Some on the left have dreams of a new fairer, more equal and more democratic society emerging from this crisis. I fear that other will have very different ideas – and they are the ones with most of the cards.

  • Tony Greaves 12th Apr '20 - 8:31pm

    See my piece in the latest issue of Liberator.

  • Tony Greaves

    Can you tell us which European country has not had an issue with PPE?

  • A lot of the stuff amounts to “when I was out walking my dog, I was outraged to see a selfish person blatantly flouting the rules by walking down my footpath. The police must do something about other people”. To be honest I’m developing such an intense dislike of these self appointed coronavirus wardens, self-isolating from them almost counts as a misanthropic pleasure in an otherwise tedious world.

  • @ John O. ……..and can I ask you a question ?

    Can you explain why there have been three times as many deaths in the UK (10,612) compared to the 3,011 in Germany ? Is it what is sometimes described as an act of God – or is it simply a case of lack of preparation and testing by the UK Government ?

  • David Raw
    Testing. The more testing is done the less lethal the virus looks. Germany was influenced by South Korea rather than China.

  • I agree, Glenn. I was aware of that. It may well be the case that the sooner people are tested the sooner they get the chance for effective treatment.

    Too little, too late under the Tories, although it must be said under the 2010-15 Government spending was cut back (severely on Social Care) and the UK was in the lower half of health spending. The whole contracting out of social care in local government led to a competitive downward spiral.

  • David Raw

    Agree Germany is by far & away the best in Europe by a country mile.
    On Monday this week UK testing was the same as France.

    In terms of deaths Germany is again the best. For other major European countries deaths measured per million pop Spain 339, Italy 302, Belgium 260, France 187, Netherlands 140 & UK 118.

  • The Guardian, latest tonight :

    ‘Sue Hill, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said she believed UK deaths could rise to 30,000. She acknowledged that the government has a difficult job but said it gave the appearance of placing “political spin” over action. Describing the daily Downing Street briefing as “a bit of a joke”, she said: “He [Boris Johnson or another cabinet minister] is sitting there speaking about subjects he doesn’t really understand and can’t answer questions about it. It’s political spin, isn’t it? They’re not doing themselves any favours.

    “The thing that irritates me is cabinet ministers are standing up every day, addressing us as if we’re on a war footing and giving Churchillian quotes when they could be doing a few simple things like getting more bits of plastic and paper [which personal protective equipment is made out of] on to wards.”

    Prof John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for north-west England, who has previously criticised the government over the crisis, said its performance had worsened. He said: “It was the failure to convene [the emergency committee] Cobra at the beginning of February that meant everything else flowed from it, the failure to order equipment etc. Now we are into the cover-up. Any journalist worth their salt should boycott this propaganda [the daily briefing]. They don’t answer any questions. The chief nurse deflected the question about the number of nurses and doctors who died because of confidentiality. She wasn’t being asked about individuals, she was being asked about numbers.”

    Professor Ashton also said that people were dying in care homes and at home without being tested while some were being sent home to die before they had been tested. “There are probably large numbers of people who are not being counted”.

  • Jane Ann Liston 13th Apr '20 - 12:04am

    Seems to me that Wendy Chamberlain should know what she is talking about. I’m quite happy to go along with her thoughts about police powers.

  • Dad’s Army comes to mind. Stupidly over-zealous air raid wardens were the butt of WW2 jokes, just as PC Plod threatening to arrest a family playing on their own front lawn is today’s figure of ridicule. However, the nation in wartime did overwhelmingly understand just how crucial it was to “put that light out!” We should equally understand how much it matters now that we obey social distancing rules.

    Putting up with a few over-officious policemen is a small price to pay. This government has made many mistakes, but they are right to err on the side of severity when they balance human life against the complaints of fundamentalist liberals and libertarians.

  • Tony Greaves: “Government politicians … are using the line that loads of people are not doing what they are asked as a diversionary tactic …to divert media attention away from their own incompetence … on things like testing and PPE”.

    Ludicrous conspiracy-theory nonsense. The sort of thing that discredits Lib Dems. Certainly the Government have made many mistakes, the worst being listening to the “let’s not fret” brigade, and hence bringing death to thousands. But when they belatedly impose stricter rules, they’re clearly just trying to catch up with where they should have got to much earlier.

    By all means let’s pillory the Tories when they deserve it. But if we pillory them over everything they ever do, then all we will achieve is to paint ourselves as blinkered political fanatics who shoudn’t be listened to.

  • Having just digested David Raw’s post, I should add a PS. Raw has put his finger on what the Tory political game is all about. It’s about empty boasting, it’s about covering up their original lackadaisical response to the threat, it’s about covering up their continuing inability to organise and plan.

    The one thing they are doing that is broadly reasonable, and not part of a spin game, is finally to impose a strict lockdown, and ask the police to help make sure it sticks.

  • It’s not just the politicians; it’s a supine media..

    Every ministerial spokesperson (Patel was the worst so far) is allowed to get away with answering every question with the same ‘we are…, etc.” answer; this answer, which is usually about a minute long is just a rehash of the previous answer. Patel’s non-apology was a disgrace and her, “I’ve made it absolutely clear” just compounded the fact that she’d drawn the short straw for the day and wouldn’t be held to account.

    Meaningless phrases like, “There are record amounts of PPE at hospitals”????? ( of course there are it’s a ruddy pandemic) ignores the shortages..They are still using “distribution problems” as an excuse; the Hovis boy, on Gold Hill, could’ve done a better job.

    The media should not let this go on. I’m sure every one of us, listening to the ‘briefings’, has wanted to shout, “Ask him/her xxxx” and “Don’t leave it there”…

    BTW…with respect to those complaining about over officious policing; “You are doing exactly what the government wants: wasting time on peripherals whilst their ongoing incompetence passes unchallenged”..

  • Nonconformistradical 13th Apr '20 - 8:03am

    On the “Germany appears to be handling this best” issue – could one factor be that their current head politician Angela Merkel has a science background and might conceivably be more qualified and more likely to pay attention to and make a sound judgement call on what the scientists say than are those ‘politicians’ in the UK who make a point of trashing experts?

  • Fiona White 13th Apr '20 - 8:04am

    The comments about over zealous police officers are quite right. Equally there are some people who, no matter how often the message is put out, think it doesn’t apply to them. There is a balance in there somewhere.

    My concern is to make sure that all our liberties are restored as soon as possible once this COVID 19 situation is over. This cannot be an excuse to restrict people’s movement or other activities any longer than is absolutely necessary.

    The thing we do need to change is the recognition of keyworker status. The phrase “low skilled worker” should never again be used to describe people we have all relied on during this crisis. This includes not only NHS doctors and nurses but also the ancillary staff, including porters and cleaners. It includes care workers in residential homes and those who care for people in their own homes. It includes the people who collect and dispose of our rubbish. In this current situation they have been far more important than the “high skilled” professionals who work in offices and banks. Maybe it’s an opportunity to rebalance our vision of society.

  • “Maybe it’s an opportunity to rebalance our vision of society.”

    Post virus the combination of much increased unemployment and much diminished GDP adds up to a big hole in govn revenue when the country already has a mind bending level of debt so not sure how public sector pay et al will benefit from such a mess, especially as more spending will be needed to keep the NHS running in a new mode that includes increased capacity for further viral outbreaks, by the time coronavirus has bounced through Africa, mingled with stuff like Ebola, who knows what we will be facing!

  • David Raw
    The other, IMO, mistake being made is treating the virus too late. For example, it appears that the Japanese drug Favipiravir is very effective if cases are caught before the virus multiplies too much. It becomes less useful when the infection becomes more entrenched in a patient. This suggests that early treatment of this coronavirus would be more effective than waiting until it becomes more serious. In other words treat mild symptoms and they are less likely to develop into something worse.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Apr '20 - 9:48am

    Police officers are very accountable assuming they are easily identifiable and there is a robust internal monitoring system. Also the almost universality of video cameras gives an extra transparency. Ideally their conversations should be recorded also. Perhaps we also need an element of independent scrutiny in these emotional times.

  • @ Peter Hirst “Perhaps we also need an element of independent scrutiny in these emotional times”. We’ve already got it in Scotland, Peter. A very highly respected human rights lawyer, John Scott Q.C., has been appointed to Police Scotland to do just that.

    It’s time for the Tory Government in Westminster to do the same in England. As Lloyd George said (of his own government) back in 1915, “Too late in moving here. Too late in arriving there. Too late in coming to this decision. Too late in starting with enterprises. Too late in preparing”.

    That will be the final judgement on this Johnson government if ever there’s a Royal Commission of Enquiry. Slapdash incompetence, make it up as you go along and lots of blether. It’s not just about human rights, it’s about testing, protective gear and under investment in the NHS and local government since 2010.

    What bigger human right is there than the right to life.

  • David Allen 13th Apr '20 - 1:42pm

    While Labour politicians go easy on their criticism of Government, in order to look constructive and avoid any accusations of playing party politics, the awful truth goes missing. Everyone should read:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/12/uk-coronavirus-deaths-preventable-government-account

  • Barry Lofty 13th Apr '20 - 2:47pm

    David Allen: I have read now and it makes sombre reading.

  • @ David Allen I wouldn’t underestimate the new Leader of the Opposition and his
    Shadow team, Allen. I’m sure he’ll be forensic at the proper time.

    I may have missed something, so maybe you could update me on what the Lib Dems have said, if anything, recently.

  • @David Allen 1.42pm

    I agree absolutely

    I just cannot understand our Government and Ministers refusing to apologise for the chaos with PPE and not fully acknowledging the problem.
    The Country knows something is amiss and the NHS staff certainly knows it and all this ends up doing is destroying confidence.
    I do not believe for one second that the problem is just with logistics and the delivery of PPE. It is blatantly obvious that our stocks are low and there is problems with resourcing them.
    If it was just a case of delivery it makes no sense, our roads are empty and there are haulage companies currently furloughing staff so there are plenty of haulage companies out there able to deliver supplies if the government needed them. Then we have the military capability to be flying resources to regional points in the country.
    If Supermarkets are able to deliver Tons of food DAILY to keep supermarkets stocked then I fail to understand how the government cannot keep NHS and front line care staff resourced with PPE.

    I know the Government would probably argue that they do not want to cause panic by admitting a mistake at this stage, but there are just as many dangers in destroying confidence at a time of crisis

    When you make a mistake, you admit it, the Government pledged to be transparent but it is not doing so.

    I actually just had to admire President Marcron in his press release he said

    “”France is going through difficult times. The epidemic is starting to slow down. The results are there. Thanks to your efforts, everyday we have made progress. But our country was not sufficiently ready for this crisis. We will all draw all the consequences.”

    Why don’t we get that kind of honesty from our Government?

  • We need parliament back as soon as possible and opposition parties need to be holding the government to account. I get that there should be no political point-scoring during this crisis, however, that does not mean there should be a lack of scrutiny.

    There have been mistakes made during this crisis and is imperative that we learn from them in order to prevent more during this crisis

    The Government cannot release the lockdown until the infrastructure is in place in order to be able to do so.
    That means that the Government has to have in place
    (i) The ability to test on a massive scale with quicker results
    (ii) the ability to contract trace in a fast and efficient manner which requires public cooperation on a massive scale
    (iii) Vast supplies of PPE and the infrastructure to get it to where it is needed on a daily basis using the military if needed. The Government has to get this sorted out and get manufacturing it on a massive scale. Only once the infrastructure is in place can the government look to releasing some of the lockdown measures.
    to include
    Schools reopening,
    Shops reopening
    Manufacturing reopening.

    There should be restricted measures put on pubs and Restaurants. They should be allowed to open only if they are able to practice social distancing, i.e Reduced capacity and no standing at the Bar and restrict opening times until 11 pm We cannot have packed Bars till all hours of the morning with irresponsible drinkers and the problems usually associated with this and the strain it courses on emergency services.
    Night-Clubs should remain closed as it is impossible to practice social distancing and again the problems associated with night clubs and emergency frontline resources

    Sporting events and mass gatherings still need to be banned for the time being.

    But we can not even begin the process of ending a lockdown until the Government has in place the infrastructure to track, trace and isolate and the assurance that the NHS has the PPE on a DAILY BASIS that it requires to treat the public whilst keeping themselves safe.
    We would not send our military into a war with a stick to flight an enemy and we should not expect our front line staff to fight a virus without having the weapons that they need to keep themselves safe.
    We need opposition parties to be making these cases and more vocally in parliament, the Government must not have a blank cheque on this crisis

  • The thing is, eventually the lockdown will have to end. You cannot keep these measure going for months. Certainly not while waiting for a vaccine that that could be years away or may never arrive at all and may not be that effective even if does. Vaccines for other coronaviruses have a very patchy record. What we have done is huge vastly problematic and costly social experiment with no real thought on how or when to end it.

  • @Glenn

    “The thing is, eventually the lockdown will have to end”

    I don’t think anyone disagrees with that Glenn but the Government must have the infrastructure in place in order to do this that is obvious,
    If they are not able to manufacture and supply on a massive scale the PPE required for front line staff to treat this virus then the whole system collapses. NHS and Care staff would rightly so refuse to go to work if they felt their lives and their family lives are put at risk.
    If we saw large amounts of front line staff dying from lack of protection then the public would go nuts and you would see civil disobedience on the streets and that is something the Government cannot afford right now.

    The Government has to be able to Test on a massive scale in Hospital and care home settings as well as the community and to contact trace in order for it to work. If not we will see infection rates soar again and we would be back to square one again or even worse and the country cannot afford that.

    There is just as much economic pain from large scale deaths directly and indirectly from coronavirus and from public confidence if numbers were to soar again, people would choose to lock themselves down and not spend in the communities which is vital to get the economy moving again.
    There would be many financial risks to the economy for large scale deaths and our attitude to spending and demand for immaterial goods would drastically change I would suggest and confidence would take years to recover.

    This virus is probably going to be endemic until a vaccine can be found and therefore it is vital that the Government has the measures in place.
    So far the figures have shown that 50% of those that have gone into the hospital has died, the figures do not include those that have died in the community and care homes which have been suggested would double the death figures.
    That death figure does not include

  • Matt
    There is no guarantee of a vaccine. There is also no consistency from country to country on how the infection or death rates are measured. Densely populated Japan with an aging demographic has had very few deaths despite no lock down. The figures for locked countries v less locked down countries are barely any different. So there isn’t really any proof that it is even working. You say we don’t know how many people have died at home of covid19, but we don’t really know how many people have died with it rather than of it because a positive test for the virus is used on the death certificate as the cause and sometimes just the symptoms are recorded even if the test is negative. We also don’t know how many people have dropped dead at home of things like of heart attacks after been told to self isolate. Symptoms of serious cardiovascular problems can include a new and persistent cough, aches, laboured breathing and sometimes vomiting. Heart failure /heart disease is the number the number one killer of people, but more so of men over the age of 50 or so. Other countries are beginning to come out of lockdown with no vaccine in sight.
    Anyway we are never going agree and nothing either of us will say will convince the other.

  • @Glenn

    “There is no guarantee of a vaccine.”

    I never said there was and I never said that we had to remain in lockdown until one was found.
    I said that infrastructure has to be in place before we start to end lockdown to include the ability to test on a massive scale including in the community and that we are able to produce enough PPE for front line staff on a daily basis and we are able to contact trace.

    The Who has said that Coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than swine flu.

    NHS staff and care staff are fighting on the front line without enough access to PPE. They are subjected to higher viral loads of the virus because the environment that they are in.
    They are working in extraordinary circumstances and working flat out.
    If you think that is sustainable 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no end in sight to this then I really do have to worry about some people’s thinking.
    We would have vital NHS and care staff dropping like flies and not only unable to treat covid-19 patients, but patients across the board.
    I would suggest that even the most dedicated NHS worker would reconsider their career in such circumstances if the thought the risks where to high for themselves and their families.

    Without the NHS and frontline staff to treat us the economy collapses anyway.

    I agree we are not going to agree on this Glenn, but that is not going to stop me pointing out every time why I think you are wrong and what you are overlooking each time you are putting the economy first

  • Martin
    What it’s supposed to mean is there is no guarantee for a vaccine, just as there is no guarantee for anything else. Anytime I say anything about the lockdown, I basically get “throw the unbeliever down the well”. Trashing the economy, high unemployment and isolating people in their homes is not good for health or the NHS, either. But I’m in a minority of opinion and I have to stick by the local customs, even though I think they’re self harming.

  • Martin
    I’m not sure. “No guarantee” by definition implies uncertainty. For example, If you invest in a business there is “no guarantee” of a good return on that investment.

  • Martin
    You’re twisting what I said. The best case scenario is 18 months. This assumes the development stage is smooth and the trials go more or less perfectly. But it could be 24 months or 36 months and so on. That’s what I’m saying. The other point I’m making is that national lockdowns are not universal, seem to be barely anymore effective than other approaches and that they are already being gradually loosened without a vaccine in sight. Thus making the vaccine argument of a bit of a red herring.

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