Emergency Coronavirus 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.


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

That's why we’re producing monthly reports exposing excessive uses of emergency powers with analysis and recommendations. We'll publish them here - and we'll send an Emergency Powers & Civil Liberties Report to every parliamentarian, every month.

Click here for our April report.

Our May report is due on 28 May 2020.

Got a tip? Let us know if the emergency powers are being used excessively or inappropriately in your area. It’s really important that, where possible, you send us evidence such as photos or videos.


The publication of this report marks approximately one month since the Coronavirus Act 2020 was passed into law on 25th March 2020, and since the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 were made by statutory instrument on 26th March.

Read report

Police fixed penalty notices in England

Dates from 27th March to 11th May 2020 (Data)

Dates from 27th March to 27th April 2020

Police force Fines Population Fines per 100,000 people
Avon and Somerset Constabulary 211 1,650,000 12.79
Bedfordshire Police 215 660,000 32.58
British Transport Police 224
Cambridgeshire Constabulary 87 850,000 10.24
Cheshire Constabulary 96 1,050,000 9.14
City of London 37 460,000 8.04
Cleveland Police 223 570,000 39.12
Cumbria Constabulary 107 500,000 21.4
Derbyshire Constabulary 128 1,050,000 12.19
Devon and Cornwall Police 510 1,750,000 29.14
Dorset Police 116 770,000 15.06
Durham Constabulary 94 630,000 14.92
Dyfed-Powys 64 520,000 12.31
Essex Police 111 1,820,000 6.1
Gloucestershire Constabulary 162 630,000 25.71
Greater Manchester Police 171 2,800,000 6.11
Gwent 63 590,000 10.68
Hampshire Constabulary 197 1,980,000 9.95
Hertfordshire Constabulary 189 1,180,000 16.02
Humberside Police 76 930,000 8.17
Kent Police 105 1,830,000 5.74
Lancashire Constabulary 633 1,490,000 42.48
Leicestershire Police 230 1,080,000 21.3
Lincolnshire Police 124 750,000 16.53
Merseyside Police 217 1,420,000 15.28
Metropolitan Police Service 634 8,820,000 7.19
Ministry of Defence Police 14
Norfolk Constabulary 227 900000 25.22
North Yorkshire Police 458 820,000 55.85
North Wales 70 700,000 10
Northamptonshire Police 198 740,000 26.76
Northumbria Police 150 1450000 10.34
Nottinghamshire Police 89 1150000 7.74
South Wales 102 1,320,000 7.73
South Yorkshire Police 258 1390000 18.53
Staffordshire Police 28 1,130,000 2.48
Suffolk Constabulary 187 760,000 24.61
Surrey Police 346 1,190,000 29.08
Sussex Police 348 1,670,000 20.84
Thames Valley Police 649 2,970,000 21.85
Warwickshire Police 22 560,000 3.93
West Mercia Police 87 1,270,000 6.85
West Midlands Police 322 2,900,000 11.1
West Yorkshire Police 460 2,310,000 19.91
Wiltshire Police 137 720,000 19.03


You can read much more about the Health Protection Regulations in our monthly reports.

Here is our briefing for parliament on the Health Protection Regulations.


One month ago, a series of statutory instruments were made under the Public Health Act 1984 to enforce so-called “lockdown” restricons. Decisions of such magnitude require not only legal authority but democrac consent (...)

Read briefing


Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, but we cannot let basic rights fall casualty to crisis. 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


The extraordinary powers in the Coronavirus Bill demand close scrutiny, some require major amendments and signicant limitation, and some — in absence of further justication or explanation — should simply be removed.

Read briefing


In this page, we set out the big questions about the new NHSX contact tracing app and explain what we know so far.

We think the Health Secretary’s choice of a state-controlled, centralised app is wrong and leaves lots of unanswered questions. Our director explains some of the reasons here.

In 2-3 weeks time, we’ll all be faced with the choice of whether to download and use the app or not. It’s a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer. Here we try to give you the information you need, in as simple terms as possible, to help you make an informed choice.

If you have any further questions or want to share your thoughts or contributions on this set of questions, email us at info@bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

Read FAQ


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: