COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
amediasatex
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Location: Sunny Devon! just East of the Moor

Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby amediasatex » 11 Jan 2021, 11:46am

Derbyshire Police...


The most telling thing about this latest episode, and the thing that should really make you think is:

The police were already there and waiting.

That pretty much confirms in my mind that their intention from the start was a PR exercise in appearing to be strict. They weren't there primarily to educate and inform the public and reduce instances of accidental transmission.

There were they simply to fine 'someone' for breaking the rules to make an example of for the local (and national) press.

There would be infinitely better ways to deploy police resources to actually educate, inform and police adherence to the guidance and rules, sending multiple officers to the local beauty spot to 'catch' a handful of people out for a walk is not one of them.

Heck, if that particular spot was really an issue for local mixing and transmission (I doubt it) they could even have had a better, more constructive, impact by simply manning the entrance and having a polite chat with anyone who turned up, explaining the guidance and asking people to go home and think about if their actions were appropriate or not. Handing out on the spot fines as a first action for minor (or perhaps not even actual) breaches does nothing but erode respect and trust in the local police.

thirdcrank
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Jan 2021, 12:19pm

If it's not already clear, I'm particularly commenting on the theme of "guidance -vs- the law."

The four "E's" mantra achieves very little IMO because it's meaningless without some background.

IMO The education bit must come from the vast amount of publicity pumped out by the government in every branch of the media. If somebody is breaking the law in a way that merits enforcement - and the E being bandied about at the moment is Egregious, then the idea that the PC/ PCSO should "educate" them as part of the run up to the issue of a ticket, is IMO absurd.

For me, the problem isn't that the police were somehow trigger-happy with the tickets but that they seem to have been briefed and deployed to enforce an imaginary offence.

As an example of what I'm saying, some years ago, we had a thread about a cyclist on the motorway - an offence under the motorway regs. - who was given a ticket for the wrong offence, Cue for much hooting and derision but that was a mistake which created a loophole.

Dinosaur speaking, from the days when the four "E's" were 'Elo, 'ello, 'ello. What 'ave we 'ere?

Psamathe
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Psamathe » 11 Jan 2021, 1:26pm

I wonder if it would be less open to mis-understanding if there was "the Law" and anything else was "clarification". So only those in a position to "clarify" would be telling us about things and we only have to obey "the Law". Not as now seems we must obey the lay and should obey the guidance.

Ian

Oldjohnw
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Oldjohnw » 11 Jan 2021, 1:34pm

They should most certainly have law if they want to prosecute or fine people. Then clarification when the law is unclear eg specify what close to home means. Politicians should never make it up as they go along such as Gove and scotch eggs or Patel and park benches. Or Cummings and eye watering journeys. As it is, discussions are endless ( just as on this forum) and compliance all over the place. The police get blamed when most are simply doing their job in difficult times and with poor guidance.
John

ChrisButch
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby ChrisButch » 11 Jan 2021, 1:42pm

amediasatex wrote:
Derbyshire Police...


The most telling thing about this latest episode, and the thing that should really make you think is:

The police were already there and waiting.

That pretty much confirms in my mind that their intention from the start was a PR exercise in appearing to be strict. They weren't there primarily to educate and inform the public and reduce instances of accidental transmission.

There were they simply to fine 'someone' for breaking the rules to make an example of for the local (and national) press.

There would be infinitely better ways to deploy police resources to actually educate, inform and police adherence to the guidance and rules, sending multiple officers to the local beauty spot to 'catch' a handful of people out for a walk is not one of them.

Heck, if that particular spot was really an issue for local mixing and transmission (I doubt it) they could even have had a better, more constructive, impact by simply manning the entrance and having a polite chat with anyone who turned up, explaining the guidance and asking people to go home and think about if their actions were appropriate or not. Handing out on the spot fines as a first action for minor (or perhaps not even actual) breaches does nothing but erode respect and trust in the local police.


Devon and Cornwall Police have been rather more intelligent on Dartmoor. We had the absurd situation at the weekend that many people from Plymouth, trying to avoid crowds on the Hoe, local parks etc, drove up on to Dartmoor for 'exercise'. The southwestern edge of the Moor is very close to Plymouth. In order to 'stay local', everybody stopped at the first place they could find, mostly by the roadside because the carparks rapidly filled. The result was that this sector of the Moor was full of people, but the Moor away from Plymouth was empty as usual. So what was the police response? Rather than pack everybody back home, they were warned about unsafe parking on the narrow and icy Moor roads, and advised to move on to the empty car parks further afield 'for their exercise', an officiously narrow interpretation of 'staying local' quietly forgotten. Discretion and common sense.

reohn2
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby reohn2 » 11 Jan 2021, 1:45pm

Oldjohnw wrote:They should most certainly have law if they want to prosecute or fine people. Then clarification when the law is unclear eg specify what close to home means. Politicians should never make it up as they go along such as Gove and scotch eggs or Patel and park benches. Or Cummings and eye watering journeys. As it is, discussions are endless ( just as on this forum) and compliance all over the place. The police get blamed when most are simply doing their job in difficult times and with poor guidance.

+1
The police get blamed for trying(and failing)to enforce a none existant law,made up by incompentent politicians who U turn so fast and break their own rules no one actually knows what's allowed and what isn't!
Which inturn undermines the police to the point of ineffectiveness.

Someone one somwhere said "you couldn't make it up" the PM and his cronies do with monotonous regularity!
-----------------------------------------------------------

thirdcrank
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Jan 2021, 1:51pm

Psamathe wrote:I wonder if it would be less open to mis-understanding if there was "the Law" and anything else was "clarification". So only those in a position to "clarify" would be telling us about things and we only have to obey "the Law". Not as now seems we must obey the lay and should obey the guidance.

Ian


That's pretty much what you have now, but it seems to me that under English criminal law, you can only "clarify" in one direction. So, if a government minister publicly announces something is OK, then no matter what a literal interpretation of the criminal law might say, it would be an extraordinary set of circumstances which might make a prosecution appropriate and even more extraordinary for it to be successful.

OTOH, no amount of ministerial announcements can criminalise something that isn't an offence.

One side effect of all this is to expose the mess our criminal justice system has become; in particular fixed penalties have been extended piecemeal without any real thought about creating a decent system.

Psamathe
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Psamathe » 11 Jan 2021, 2:01pm

thirdcrank wrote:
Psamathe wrote:I wonder if it would be less open to mis-understanding if there was "the Law" and anything else was "clarification". So only those in a position to "clarify" would be telling us about things and we only have to obey "the Law". Not as now seems we must obey the lay and should obey the guidance.

Ian


That's pretty much what you have now, but it seems to me that under English criminal law, you can only "clarify" in one direction. So, if a government minister publicly announces something is OK, then no matter what a literal interpretation of the criminal law might say, it would be an extraordinary set of circumstances which might make a prosecution appropriate and even more extraordinary for it to be successful.

OTOH, no amount of ministerial announcements can criminalise something that isn't an offence.

One side effect of all this is to expose the mess our criminal justice system has become; in particular fixed penalties have been extended piecemeal without any real thought about creating a decent system.

Isn't there additionally the aspect that the public must have reasonable means o find out what the law is. So announcing a new significant law on TV one evening o come into effect midnight (few hours later) does not give the public reasonable means to establish what the law is.

If you are an avid PM announcement viewer then fine but I find Johnson's comedy Churchill impressions very irritating and can't cope with more than 60 secs of them or e.g. if you don't have a TV, rubbish internet (which you don't use much), maybe check the weekend papers, etc. How would you reasonable find out about the new law (particularly given how frequently laws are changing). As I understand it, last time law was not actually published into some time after it came into effect.

Ian

thirdcrank
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Jan 2021, 2:13pm

I agree totally that the public needs to understand the law, but that doesn't need to be sophisticated to work.

Don't drink and drive is a good example. Nevertheless, everybody involved with enforcement needs to be fully trained. If somebody wants to take it to its, er, limits then they can look it up. They don't need government ministers embroidering it and, more to the point, the last thing they need is the police enforcing that advice rather than the law.

irc
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby irc » 11 Jan 2021, 2:31pm

From a post on another forum by an English lawyer. There is no restriction in law as to how far you can travel from home for exercise in England.
The section making exercise an exception to staying at home states


"(c)to take exercise outside—
(i)alone,
(ii)with—
(aa)one or more members of their household, their linked household, or
(bb)where exercise is being taken as part of providing informal childcare for a child aged 13 or under, one or more members of their linked childcare household, or
(iii)in a public outdoor place, with one other person who is not a member of their household, their linked household or their linked childcare household,"

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/202 ... chedule/3A

No mention of distance. Unlike Scotland where 5 miles outside local council arwa is a legal limit for exercise.

Jdsk
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Jdsk » 11 Jan 2021, 2:35pm

thirdcrank wrote:Don't drink and drive is a good example.

That's an interesting analogy. A punchy message that's easy to understand. Then use it in different ways in different channels. And underpinned by legislation.

There is a difference with the changing restrictions over time and by area, but there are also a lot of similarities.

Jonathan

Stevek76
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Stevek76 » 11 Jan 2021, 2:55pm

Psamathe wrote: As I understand it, last time law was not actually published into some time after it came into effect.

Ian


I can't immediately recall one of these having not been published before coming into force. However most have been published mere hours beforehand, the worse was less than 30min before midnight and the actual 'coming into force' time on that was shifted into the morning to make it look less daft.

Also that's published in the raw amendment pdf form (i.e. where it consists primarily of statements such as 'on para (1)', 'delete this', 'substitute that', 'add xyx' etc), it does often take a bit more time for the law to get spliced into the website into the more easily readable form. Expecting people to read an amendment in reference to the regulation being amended is not realistic.

Guidance has normally been published right after the announcement but that just leaves everyone speculating as to what is guidance and what will actually be law!

The approach to this has been very poor by the uk/english government. Emergency legislation could be argued to be appropriate in March, use since then has just been poor planning. It cannot have been unreasonable to expect that, for example when the regional tier system was set up, that a consistent set of tiers was set up then, including higher ones (just in case). Sure tiers might need tweaks as new evidence transpires on transmission vectors but again, this should have been being done proactively, in accordance with normal parliamentary procedures. The devolved nations have not been much better either, though they might argue they're somewhat constrained by the UK wide actions. Everything about this has been head in sand until it's too late then a panic and chuck new legislation out overnight.

Jdsk
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Jdsk » 11 Jan 2021, 2:56pm

Stevek76 wrote:Emergency legislation could be argued to be appropriate in March, use since then has just been poor planning. It cannot have been unreasonable to expect that, for example when the regional tier system was set up, that a consistent set of tiers was set up then, including higher ones (just in case). Sure tiers might need tweaks as new evidence transpires on transmission vectors but again, this should have been being done proactively, in accordance with normal parliamentary procedures.

Exactly.

Jonathan

thirdcrank
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Jan 2021, 2:59pm

My main point would be I cannot imagine anybody has got into trouble by sticking to the "Don't drink and drive" exhortation. If anybody wants more detailed guidance, it's available and I fancy plenty of people have got into trouble by misinterpreting it.

irc has helpfully posted what I take to be the English regulation which the the tickets in Derbyshire were "purported" (a legal friends' word if ever there was one) to be issued under.

As I think I've posted on this thread or one of the others, not only is no distance mentioned in the regs., it's not in the advice which only has local.

If the regs included the word "local" then Government guidance to the police on the interpretation of local might be useful, but it isn't.

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Mick F
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Re: COVID Lockdown - Guidance versus the Law

Postby Mick F » 11 Jan 2021, 3:39pm

Late to the party here.
Sorry.

The weather has changed from ice and frost, to mild and damp. Tomorrow will be the day that I get out and ride a bike! :D

It'll be the first time out on a bike since before Christmas, but all my plans for interesting rides have had to be shelved. I wanted to complete my "crossings of the River Tamar", but this includes ferry rides and train rides, let alone driving 50miles each way to a footpath to cross over the Bude Canal Aqueduct over the Tamar.

All this could be legal, but certainly not within the spirit of the law, so I won't be doing them for the foreseeable.
Mick F. Cornwall