Coronavirus (COVID-19): international policing responses - part 1 - during lockdown

This review (part 1) considers international policing approaches and responses to policing the lockdown, up to the 7 May 2020.

Human Rights and Equalities considerations

  • Human Rights and Equalities commissions in several countries are scrutinising the application of the respective new lockdown powers
  • Some countries have established processes to assess and report regularly on the police's use of the new regulations to provide the public with assurances on the appropriate and proportionate use of the new powers
  • Spain's controversial 'gag law', which has been accused of limiting citizens' rights to protest and free speech, is being used as a legal basis to enforce lockdown
  • There have been a number of protests and clashes with the police connected to lockdown measures in different countries. Repeated clashes with the police in France's working class suburbs (banlieues) have been attributed to the lockdown's disproportionate effects on working class and Minority Ethnic communities (although these same areas experienced disorder prior to the pandemic). In Germany 100 people were arrested at a protest in Berlin, and both citizens and law enforcement have been protesting social distancing regulations in the USA
  • Human rights groups have condemned the ordering and use of 'spit hoods' (which had also previously been used in the UK) by the Garda Siochana in the Republic of Ireland and concerns have been expressed there by the Police Authority
  • There have been claims that the lockdown and social distancing rules are unconstitutional in Italy and the USA, but to date there have been no successful challenges
  • There are privacy concerns about drones, and privacy and security concerns over contact-tracing apps in all countries where these have been developed, although such apps are not necessarily under the control of the police
  • There have been some concerns from civil society organisations and members of the public about policing approaches of encouraging the public to police each other by reporting 'bad' behaviour to the police. However, according to Ipsos Mori's polling, overall support for the public calling in breaches was high



Back to top