Emergency Powers

A wave of emergency powers and extreme measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic have brought about the greatest loss of liberty in our country's history. Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures - but not an authoritarian surveillance state. Freedoms are too easily lost in the heat of crises - join us to protect them.

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Emergency Powers &
Civil Liberties Reports

Emergency measures are needed to protect public health. However, they must be proportionate, lawful and strictly temporary, to protect our democracy in the long run.

Since the pandemic began, the UK has been under ministerial rule. Draconian powers have been seized, democratic processes have been evaded, and our most basic liberties have been suspended. Protecting public health doesn’t require this new authoritarian political order.

We’ve been monitoring the new police powers, the growth of the surveillance state and big tech censorship online.

We’re producing comprehensive reports exposing the drastic suspension of civil liberties, analysing new emergency laws and making recommendations to restore rights and democracy. We're sending our Emergency Powers & Civil Liberties Reports to every parliamentarian, every month.

Our next report will be published in early October 2021.

TAKE ACTION: Is your MP standing up for your rights? Tell your MP which of our report recommendations you'd like them to follow up on. Emails to MPs can make a real difference — remember, they work for you. Find your MP's contact details here.


To date, around 20,000 people have been fined for allegedly breaching the lockdown. However, these draconian powers have been used unlawfully time and time again, and disproportionately against black and Asian people. We've rallied 13 rights groups, 40+ parliamentarians, human rights lawyers and Reverend Martin Poole to demand a review of EVERY lockdown fine - now.

If you received a fine, whether you paid it or not, tell us in confidence.

Police fixed penalty notices in England & Wales per 100,000 people

Dates from 27th March to 6th July 2020

Police force Fines Population Fines per 100,000 people
Avon and Somerset Constabulary 353 1,650,000 21.39
Bedfordshire Police 289 660,000 43.79
British Transport Police 335
Cambridgeshire Constabulary 134 850,000 15.76
Cheshire Constabulary 197 1,050,000 18.76
City of London 68 460,000 14.78
Cleveland Police 298 570,000 52.28
Cumbria Constabulary 726 500,000 145.20
Derbyshire Constabulary 259 1,050,000 24.67
Devon and Cornwall Police 1,016 1,750,000 58.06
Dorset Police 824 770,000 107.01
Durham Constabulary 180 630,000 28.57
Dyfed-Powys 1,710 520,000 330.05
Essex Police 240 1,820,000 13.19
Gloucestershire Constabulary 236 630,000 37.46
Greater Manchester Police 314 2,800,000 11.21
Gwent 129 590,000 21.82
Hampshire Constabulary 248 1,980,000 12.53
Hertfordshire Constabulary 276 1,180,000 23.39
Humberside Police 138 930,000 14.84
Kent Police 125 1,830,000 6.83
Lancashire Constabulary 779 1,490,000 52.28
Leicestershire Police 369 1,080,000 34.17
Lincolnshire Police 241 750,000 32.13
Merseyside Police 484 1,420,000 34.08
Metropolitan Police Service 1,086 8,820,000 12.31
Ministry of Defence Police 35
Norfolk Constabulary 409 900000 45.44
North Yorkshire Police 1,141 820,000 139.15
North Wales 463 700,000 66.29
Northamptonshire Police 369 740,000 49.86
Northumbria Police 276 1450000 19.03
Nottinghamshire Police 186 1150000 16.17
South Wales 310 1,320,000 23.29
South Yorkshire Police 367 1390000 26.40
Staffordshire Police 43 1,130,000 3.81
Suffolk Constabulary 262 760,000 34.47
Surrey Police 511 1,190,000 42.94
Sussex Police 866 1,670,000 51.86
Thames Valley Police 784 2,970,000 26.40
Warwickshire Police 61 560,000 10.89
West Mercia Police 172 1,270,000 13.54
West Midlands Police 375 2,900,000 12.93
West Yorkshire Police 750 2,310,000 32.47
Wiltshire Police 185 720,000 25.69

Police fixed penalty notices in Scotland

Dates from 27th March to 20th May 2020

Division Fixed Penalty Notice issued
North East 38
Forth Valley 44
Tayside 15
Edinburgh 32
Greater Glasgow 113
The Lothians & Scottish Borders 18
Renfrewshire & Inverclyde 67
Argyll & West Dunbartonshire 42
Highland & Islands 19
Fife 19
Lanarkshire 57
Ayrshire 47
Dumfries & Galloway 16




Is your MP standing up for your rights? Tell your MP which of our report recommendations you'd like them to follow up on. Emails to MPs can make a real difference - remember, they work for you.

Find your MP



Increase your impact: share this campaign page, our lockdown film, or our reports with your friends and family.

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This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to join the fight back. Join us today — we’re sending new supporters our limited edition “2020 is the new 1984” t-shirts!

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Thanks to thousands of our supporters emailing their MPs, we helped achieve a much-needed amendment to the emergency Coronavirus Act, ensuring a vote in parliament on the Act every 6 months. The first vote is in September - we'll need our voice to be louder than ever. Please join us and subscribe for action alerts.

The Coronavirus Act contains the most draconian powers ever in peace-time Britain, including:

Forced detention and isolation can be of anyone, including children, and for any amount of time

Authorities can forcibly take biological samples

There’s no clear access to legal rights from as-yet unidentified isolation facilities

Lockdown powers could prevent protests against measures

State surveillance safeguards weakened

Protections from forced detainment and treatment under Mental Health Act lowered


In a HUGE win for privacy advocates, the Government has ditched its GCHQ-backed, data-centralising contact tracing app that we warned was a failure from the start - and are said to be replacing it with a more privacy-friendly decentralised app.

We'll work hard to make sure any new app respects privacy and is completely voluntary.


The pandemic has been used to expand the surveillance state: from drones and social media shaming, to mass mobile phone tracking, ANPR, citizen reporting, talk of immunity passports, and a new form of health surveillance — thermal scanning. We're monitoring these worrying developments and taking action. Below is a small selection of our work. Don't miss our 100 Days of Lockdown film where we examine growing surveillance.


As an organisation that defends freedom of expression, we're concerned that tech companies are limiting free speech on their platforms at this moment of international crisis, in ways that are not proportional or time limited.

Read our letters below: