Police and CPS apologise over Covid-19 law enforcement errors

The figures come from a review of 231 police charges

Friday, May 15, 2020

Police chiefs and prosecutors have apologised after dozens of people in England and Wales were wrongly charged under new coronavirus laws.

The Coronavirus Act allows officers to remove or detain a “suspected infectious person” for screening and assessment.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) today admitted that all 44 charges brought under the legislation between March 27 and the end of April were incorrect and included 13 wrongful convictions.

The CPS’s director of legal services Gregor McGill said 38 of the 44 charges had been brought alongside other offences, including assaults on emergency workers, theft and burglary.

Meanwhile, implementation of the Health Protection Regulations 2020, where police have powers to break up gatherings and fine people who breach movement restrictions, saw 12 incorrect charges.

Mr McGill said 175 out of the 187 charges had been rightly applied, with errors arising when Welsh regulations were used in England or vice versa.

The figures were revealed after the CPS launched a review of all 231 police charges under coronavirus legislation in England and Wales, where the prosecution has either been stopped or ended in a conviction.

The inquiry was prompted by journalists, lawyers and campaigners pointing out errors.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: “We do of course apologise if anybody ended up in court who shouldn’t have been there.”

Mr McGill concluded: “Where we get things wrong it’s right that we do apologise for that, because there is quite rightly an expectation that we will get things right.”

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