Police chiefs admit officers can't force someone to leave another person's home under lockdown laws

·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Police vans sit parked outside Portcullis House in Westminster on September 16, 2017 in London, England. An 18-year-old man has been arrested in Dover in connection with yesterday's terror attack on Parsons Green station in which 30 people were injured. The UK terror threat level has been raised to 'critical'. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
The National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing has said that officers have no powers to remove someone or use force if they are breaking lockdown rules, but they can issue fines (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Police officers in England can tell people to leave someone’s home if they are breaching new coronavirus lockdown rules but cannot make them go, according to the guidance issued to forces.

Lockdown measures in England were relaxed on Monday, allowing up to six people to play sport together, and to meet in outdoor spaces.

But the guidelines have been criticised for lacking clarity, and as of Monday many acts - including sex with someone outside your household - have become illegal.

A document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing said: “From 1 June 2020, the approach to restrictions has changed.

“Rather than requiring a reasonable excuse to leave the place where a person is living, there are specific things that members of the public cannot do.

A Police Community Support Officer chats to people as they social distance in York, following the introduction of measures to bring England out of lockdown. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Police Community Support Officer chats to people as they social distance in York, following the introduction of measures to bring England out of lockdown (Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)

“A person may now leave and remain outside of the place where they live for any reason, subject to restrictions on gatherings and overnight stays.”

Regarding “police powers for overnight stays”, it says: “You may only direct a person to return home. There are no powers in the regulations to remove someone or use force. Fixed penalty notices and arrest still apply, where appropriate.”

The document also points out the laws put in place “provide no power of entry”.

However, officers still have existing powers at their disposal to gain entry to a property where they suspect illegal activity to be taking place.

Lockdown rules were eased slightly in Scotland on Friday, allowing people from different households to meet outdoors in groups no larger than eight within five miles of their homes, but Nicola Sturgeon warned on Monday that if rules were not adhered to the stricter lockdown rules would be reverted to.

The first minister said: “I’m told by police on Saturday alone there were 791 dispersals, that’s being being moved on for not complying with the rules.”

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 29: The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House on March 29, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 30,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Scotland's first minister has warned that if lockdown guidelines are not followed she will reintroduce the stricter rules (Jeff J Mitchell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“It’s worth being clear, in fact I have a duty to be clear with you, that if there is continued evidence of even a minority not abiding by these guidelines and travelling unnecessarily, if people meet up in larger groups or if they’re making journeys which risk spreading this virus, we will have to put these restrictions on group size and travel distance into law.

“We won’t hesitate to do that if we think it’s necessary for the collective safety and wellbeing of the population.”

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