Family with autistic children issued with legal order for ‘slamming door’

One council has issued a legal order to a family ordering them not to ‘slam doors’. The family has two autistic children, and so leaving the house can be something of a challenging business. Yet the council issued them with a Community Protection Notice ordering them to ‘make sure that when you close the door you do in a way that does not disturb others’. When the family pressed a council officer for specification, he suggested that they close the door with both hands. When the father said that he needed one hand to hold a child, the council was unsympathetic. The…

Grieving relatives targeted by dog police – and other crackdowns on dog walkers

Although we are still mid-pandemic, it appears that some public authorities are focusing their attention on creating more punitive measures targeting dog walkers. First, Dartmoor National Park is creating a new byelaw that allows dog walkers to be fined £500 if their dog’s behaviour, appearance or even presence causes ‘annoyance’ to anyone. There is no requirement that this annoyance have ‘reasonable grounds’. This means that dog walkers in the park put themselves at risk of a sizable fine, without themselves or their pet having done anything wrong. Meanwhile, councils persist in introducing PSPOs banning dog walking off leads on winter beaches. Dog…

Letter against covid passes to Northern Ireland assembly

The Manifesto Club is a signatory on a letter sent to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, urging them to oppose mandatory covid passes. The letter argues that there is no evidence that covid passes will benefit public health – yet they will create discrimination, harm workers’ rights, and bring in a ‘check-point society’. Read the letter on the Big Brother Watch website here.

Private security guards removed from Thames riverside

In September 2020, the Environment Agency (EA) appointed the company District Enforcement (DE) to enforce visitor moorings on the Thames. The private security company was contracted to police moorings, and issue penalties to anyone without the correct documentation. District Enforcement also made a request for boaters to register with it when using temporary mooring sites, invoking a fine for those who had failed to register. The company drafted signs, which a series of boating organisations complained were ‘aggressive and unwelcoming’ and ‘exceeds (available) powers significantly’. These signs read: District Enforcement has the right to exercise a general lien upon any vessel and/or…

Covid marshal funding and the surveillance of the public

Local authority covid marshals were initially financed with £30 million government funding, beginning in October 2020. Funding continued with a £400 million Contain Outbreak Management Fund, which includes continued enforcement and explanation of covid guidelines in the 2021-22 financial year. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) produced a ‘good practice framework‘ on authorities’ use of the initial funding round, which show how this money has financed a growth in council surveillance of the public. There has been a growth of Covid compliance groups, where council and other authorities including the police share ‘intelligence’ on the conduct of businesses and…

New policing bill: Criminalising traditional fan behaviour?

(A guest post by Amanda Jacks, caseworker at the Football Supporters’ Association). A few years ago, a group of supporters got in touch. Could I help arrange a celebratory walk from their local pub to the stadium to mark their historic promotion? Of course I would, it’ll be a piece of cake. How wrong was I! Suffice to say I had to seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor and assist the supporters in a fair bit of negotiation with the local police (who seemed determined to make this as difficult as possible) to ensure their plans came to fruition. Among the…

Vaccine passports – the nadir of ‘permission slip’ officialdom

Over the past decade or two, there has been a growth of licences to carry out the most everyday of activities. There are licences to busk or to hand out leaflets, licences for people to hold fitness classes or take photos in parks. Under the 2003 Licensing Act, a solitary guitar player in a pub required a ‘provision of entertainment licence’, and a venue’s possession of a piano required a ‘provision of entertainment facilities’ licence. The logic of the licence is that you can act only with an official permission slip. You cannot just pitch up and busk but must first have…

We’re in lockdown, but the state is sending electricians into homes

The government is pushing ahead with plans to require every existing rental property to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report prepared by 1 April. (This new report is in addition to the Electrical Safety Certificate already required). Landlords have been contacted by rental agencies asking them to give permission for the report to be prepared. This means electricians visiting the different rooms of a rental property to inspect the wiring. This is a point when tenants are banned from having their friends or family around to their homes, yet they are required – they cannot refuse – to have an electrician poking…