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…

Covid Marshals: Do we trust in society?

An essay reviewing the role and function of Covid Marshals, by Nikolas Koch. When introducing ‘COVID-secure marshals’, Boris Johnson suggested they would ‘help ensure social distancing in town and city centres’. Marshals should ‘support members of the public in one-way systems and remind them of guidelines,’ or ‘give out masks and hand sanitiser in public places’. In reality, the role of COVID marshals continues to be ambiguous, broadly defined, and most importantly, without formal enforcement powers. Marshals can ‘advise’ and highlight failures to comply with coronavirus legislation but not officially sanction those who ignore guidelines. Often, it remains unclear what marshals actually…

UK councils, stop hassling dog walkers

With Britain under lockdown, dog walkers’ daily walk with their animals is literally one of their last remaining freedoms. Yet the Manifesto Club has been receiving an increased number of complaints about arbitrary and pointless crackdowns on dog walkers. New restrictions on dog walkers have been introduced under lockdown, dog walkers have found themselves in the dock, and dog wardens have been out in force. North Somerset has decided that now is the best time to criminalise dogs off leads in the whole of the borough. This would mean that there will only be a few designated areas where dog walkers can…

Do we want to still have a right to protest in 2022? The Police Bill must be stopped at all costs

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill must be stopped at all costs. This Bill would in effect remove the right to protest; it would give police officers the power to ban or place restrictions of their choice upon public demonstrations. This Bill would mean that someone could be locked up for 10 years if they put others ‘at risk of’ disease, or at risk of ‘serious inconvenience’ or ‘serious annoyance’. This Bill comes after freedom of association has effectively been suspended for months, with organisers slapped with £10,000 fines and demonstrations violently broken up by police. This Bill would mean that…