Concerns raised about creeping authoritarianism amid coronavirus crisis
As the British public creaks under draconian lockdown measures there are growing protests at the police’s heavy-handed tactics in enforcing quarantine and social distancing measures.
A former Supreme Court judge has even described one police force’s approach to enforcing restrictions as mimicking the actions of “a police state”.
Jonathan Sumption – better known as Lord Sumption – told BBC Radio 4’s World At one programme on March 30 that Derbyshire Police’s use of drones to film walkers in the Peak District was “disgraceful” and “shamed our [British] policing traditions”.
Lord Sumption claimed that “the tradition of policing in this country [Britain] is that policemen are citizens in uniform, they are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government’s command.”
“The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences but only legal regulations which don’t go anything like as far as the government’s guidance”, he added.
And in a massive swipe both at the government and the police, Lord Sumption exclaimed: “This is what a police state is like … It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes”.
Lord Sumption’s position has been strongly endorsed by contrarian conservative journalist, Peter Hitchens, who has strenuously questioned both the lethality of COVID-19 – the disease caused by coronavirus – and the draconian measures introduced to contain the threat.
Growing objections at the severity of the lockdown – and its potential political consequences – come on the heels of a flurry of reports of police clamping down on the most ordinary every day activities.
In a notorious incident, again involving Derbyshire Police, officers raided a house party on the grounds that it breached government “advice and rules”.
The increasingly vocal protests of prominent establishment figures like Lord Sumption come in the wake of government warnings that the lockdown conditions could potentially last “six months”.
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