Part 1 of Blowing more bubbles can be read here.
The police, particularly in England and Wales, did not cover themselves in glory, often resulting in outrageous comments and actions. People reprimanded and searched by police for buying non-essential items while shopping, speed camera vans out when the roads were deserted, moving people on from benches in parks and so on. To add insult to injury, when disorder broke out following the death of George Floyd, almost nothing was done. Demonstrations went unchecked, statues defaced, property defaced – including the Cenotaph to our war dead in two world wars.
Johnson was, and has basically remained, silent during this attack on our values and culture, for that is what it is. We are experiencing selective policing and media trial by mob rule with virtually no effective government comment or response. When it suits them that is.
This week new guidance for public health officers in England (note not the United Kingdom although similar legislation in Wales and Scotland has been published) makes interesting reading as it gives powers to ‘Public Health Officials’. But don’t worry! Public Health England – much criticised of late – is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care and a distinct delivery organisation with operational autonomy, that provides government, local government, the NHS, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific and delivery expertise and support.
Well that’s impressive, given the response and reported shambles of the last few months. However, you will be relieved to hear that these new powers will be reviewed in late September, but, in the meantime, as apparently we are given to expect more evidence-based lockdowns as has been seen Leicester this month, to control the virus which is still among us and looking, according to the deputy chief medical officer, for somewhere to emerge. Powers have been given to Public Health Officials (PHOs) to enforce testing or isolation on individuals.
Based currently at Nottingham and Cambridge, it’s quite a nice little number; temporary of course, what they call fixed term, but a salary range between £35,686 to £42,269. If you are interested, you had better make an application soon as given the number of job losses being announced of late there are sure to be a lot of hopeful applications. Presumably personnel protective equipment will be supplied; I say presumably because from memory wasn’t there a little difficulty with that a couple of months ago? But anyway, rest assured the government minister has given PHOs powers to use which they can apply to anyone in England during the ‘transmission control period’ if they have reasonable grounds to suspect someone may be infectious.
Any person is potentially infectious, apparently. If they are, or may be, infected or contaminated with coronavirus and there is a risk that that person might infect or contaminate others, or a person has been in an infected area within the previous 14 days, they can assume reasonable grounds to test anybody if they have been told by somebody that a person has tested positive or if a person arrives somewhere and shows symptoms, whether or not they have been previously tested or if they have been in close contact with somebody who shows signs of coronavirus or has arrived in the last 14 days from an infected area.
Better keep away from other people then, particularly anybody from at the moment Leicester which is, it seems, an infected area. Or at a gathering that is illegal if more than 30 people are present except of course if it’s a demonstration with thousands of people present who have no regard for social distancing rules, which is apparently O.K.
Anyway the new guidance goes on. During the transmission control period, if Public Health Officers have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is potentially infectious, they may direct the person to go immediately to a place specified which is suitable for screening and assessment, remove the person to a place suitable for screening and assessment, and if necessary request their local safe neighbourhood Constable (if you can find one that is and not one of the community support so-called officers) to remove the person to a place suitable for screening and assessment. But this where they can really show their authority because they can require the person to remain at a place for screening and assessment for up to 48 hours. Hopefully PHOs will be aware that demands on police are such that selective and sensitive policing is the order of the day, so they may only exercise these powers if they consider it is necessary and proportionate.
Anyway, when they have got the patient to wherever is deemed suitable and of course safe, and they still have grounds to think the person hey have detained (or should that be arrested?) is potentially infectious, they can, at a time specified, require the person to be screened and assessed and to provide a biological sample (blood sample or respiratory secretions sample including swabbing the person’s nasopharyngeal cavity) to a healthcare professional (that’s a registered doctor, registered nurse or other registered healthcare professional as designated by Secretary of State) and to answer questions about their health or other relevant matters (including travel history and information about other individuals with whom the person may have had contact.
No right to remain silent here. What do you expect? Do you think this is the United Kingdom? At this point the patient may think they’ve had enough of being treated like a criminal and attempt to leave, when they will be told they will be kept against their will. No legal representation will be allowed and if they do decide to try, ‘security’ for example at a hospital, or the local police officer will prevent their leaving. Should they decide otherwise and do what the legislation calls ‘abscond’ ‘they will be forcibly kept there or taken into custody to any place that the PHO, always acting in the best interests of the community, decides. Oh and by the way they can confine you sorry direct you to stay at home for 14 days, and all this includes children too.
This then is how Britain will be locked down in future. Not nationally as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, but on a local as-and-when basis, on the say-so of just who we are not allowed to know. It’s certainly not clear but presumably on the direction of the Secretary of State who will, in turn, direct local authorities who will work with their partners to secure a bright and healthy and secure future for all.
Not that much of the younger generation seems particularly interested in securing a safe and healthy future if videos and photographs in the national press are anything to go by. They are more interested in a return to what they have decided is their normal and not one decided by Prime Minister Johnson, whose role in all this seems not to be emulating Churchill and giving what used to be called a clear steer; what we are seeing at the moment is a cross between Captain Mainwaring and Mr. Grace of Grace Brothers fame, aided by ministers who seem more in line with Captain Peacock.
Seems a good strategy to me – frighten the life out of many of your long-term supporters and acquiesce to many who wouldn’t vote for you if you paid them. Oh wait a minute……