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. A year after it was passed, it’s time to repeal the Coronavirus Act.
Every single charge under the Coronavirus Act — 252 so far — has been found unlawful. This is mostly down to Schedules 21 and 22 of the Act, which contain powers that 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.
Schedule 22 gives Ministers the power to single-handedly ban any type of gathering, including protests, vigils and political assemblies. At any time, for any government, this would be a seriously dangerous power to have. But at a time when the Government is rapidly expanding its control and adopting some of the most authoritarian powers in a generation, this poses a real and serious risk to British democracy. It must be urgently repealed.
Tell your MP to repeal these draconian powers!
Subject: Repeal the Coronavirus Act
I am writing to express my concern about the Coronavirus Act renewal motion. A year after this emergency Act was passed, I am urging you to repeal the Coronavirus Act on 25th March, 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 are Schedules 21 and 22 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 252 prosecutions — every single one of which was found unlawful by the CPS on review. This 100% unlawful prosecution rate, which has continued month after month over the past year, 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, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) Regulations 2020 require individuals who test positive to self-isolate and give police the power to forcibly return an individual to an isolation place.
Schedule 22 gives the Secretary of State extraordinary powers to prohibit gatherings, meaning protests, vigils and political assemblies could be banned at ministerial discretion. Schedule 22 has never been activated in England and so is plainly unnecessary, but neither is it proportionate in a democracy. All the time it sits on the statute books it poses a threat to the right to free expression, freedom of assembly and democracy.
Please vote to repeal these dangerous powers on 25th March.
The Coronavirus Act contains the most draconian powers ever in peace-time Britain, including:
Urgent: tell your MP to repeal the Coronavirus Act before 25th March.
Increase your impact: Share this campaign with friends & family and ask them to email their MPs.
The strength of our campaigns to reclaim privacy and defend freedom relies on your support - join us today!