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.
The Coronavirus Act is the biggest expansion of state power in a generation — and could stay in law for years. Emergency powers should carry emergency time limits. That’s why we campaigned for, and won, the right for MPs to vote on the Act every 6 months. The first vote is on Wednesday 30th September.
Every single charge under the Coronavirus Act — 141 so far — has been found unlawful. This is mostly down to Schedule 21 of the Act, which contains some of the most extreme detention powers in modern British legal history. These powers are a serious threat to human rights and justice.
Schedule 21 gives arbitrary powers to the police, immigration officers and public health officials to detain “potentially infectious” members of the public, including children, potentially indefinitely, in unidentified isolation facilities. This could be anyone – and we’ve already seen innocent, healthy people locked up unlawfully. This must end.
Tell your MP to repeal these draconian powers!
Subject: Repeal Schedule 21 in the Coronavirus Act on 30th September
I am writing to express my concern about the Coronavirus Act renewal motion. In particular, I urge you to support the amendment to repeal Schedule 21 on Wednesday 30th September, to protect rights and justice in the UK.
The Coronavirus Act represents the biggest expansion of executive power in a generation. Some of the powers in the Act are extreme, unexplained and simply unjustified — but, nodded through on the premise of urgency, the Act suffered from a lack of parliamentary scrutiny. It is vital that this motion to review the Act is not a rubber-stamping exercise but a genuine review and repeal of the Act’s unnecessary and dangerous powers. The most dangerous and excessive of these powers in Schedule 21 of the Act.
Schedule 21 contains some of the most extreme detention powers in modern British legal history. It gives unprecedented, almost arbitrary powers to the police, immigration officers and public health officials to detain “potentially infectious” members of the public, including children, potentially indefinitely and in unspecified locations. In a pandemic, that could mean anyone.
Schedule 21 detention powers have been used for 141 prosecutions — every single one of which was found unlawful by the CPS on review. This 100% unlawful prosecution rate, which has continued over six months, is unprecedented and unacceptable. Big Brother Watch has found cases of innocent and healthy individuals not only being arrested and fined but even held in police cells unlawfully under these draconian powers.
Renewing Schedule 21 in the Coronavirus Act would be dangerous and indefensible. Significant powers in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 already allow for the forced detention and testing of potentially infectious people with the authorisation of a magistrate, which is a vital safeguard. Furthermore, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations 2020 require individuals returning from countries on the quarantine list to self-isolate and give police the power to forcibly return an individual to an isolation place.
Will you support an amendment to the Coronavirus Act renewal motion to repeal Schedule 21?
The Coronavirus Act contains the most draconian powers ever in peace-time Britain, including:
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