UK police to implement self-isolation by tracking Covid-19 ‘case-by-case’ data
As per legal requirements, anyone who receives a positive result for Covid-19 is currently required to isolate for 10 days after displaying symptoms – or 10 days after receiving their result if asymptomatic.Updated: Oct 19, 2020, 15:11 IST
Police forces in England will have access to data of people told to self-isolate through the official National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace system as part of their enforcement of coronavirus lockdown rules.
Forces will have access to information telling them if an individual has been told to self-isolate on a “case-by-case basis”, the government’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Friday. It said the move was part of a legal requirement for people who had tested positive and their close contacts to self-isolate when formally notified to do so.
“The DHSC has agreed a memorandum of understanding with the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) to enable police forces to have access on a case-by-case basis to information that enables them to know if a specific individual has been notified to self-isolate,” a DHSC spokesperson said.
“The memorandum of understanding ensures that information is shared with appropriate safeguards and in accordance with the law. No testing or health data is shared in this process,” the spokesperson said.
Police will not have access to data from the NHS Covid-19 app as it works on an anonymous basis.
Under legal requirements in place, anyone who receives a positive result for Covid-19 is currently required to isolate for 10 days after displaying symptoms – or 10 days after receiving their result if asymptomatic. Members of the person’s household must also isolate for 14 days. Failure to comply with these legal requirements can lead to a fine starting at 1,000 pounds for first offences, which can scale up to 10,000 pounds for repeat offences and serious breaches of the law.
“If there is evidence to suggest you are not complying with the duty to self-isolate without reasonable justification, your local authority may pass this information on to local police forces to investigate further. This may lead to enforcement action being taken against you, which could include you being fined,” notes the latest DHSC privacy information guidance related to coronavirus testing.
“A police force may request information relating to positive Covid-19 tests from the NHS Test & Trace programme directly, where they are investigating a report of someone who may not be complying with the mandatory self-isolation period,” it said.
A spokesperson for NPCC said police forces would continue to encourage “voluntary compliance” but would enforce regulations and issue fines where appropriate.
“Officers will engage with individuals to establish their circumstances, using their discretion wherever it is reasonable to do so,” they said.
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard issued an update on its policing plan as London moved into the high alert Tier 2 category of lockdown rules over the weekend amid a spike in infections. It came ahead of the Metropolitan Police dispersing groups of drinkers after they spilled out of bars after the 10pm curfew and many continued gathering on the streets in the early hours of Saturday, soon after the new stricter rules against gatherings came in.
“Frustratingly, we have seen a small number of dangerous and reckless breaches of the regulations and as the alert level in London increases, we are adopting our policing approach,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, Met Police lead for Covid-19.
“Communities across London can therefore expect to see an increase in our efforts to deal with the most deliberate, harmful and flagrant breaches of regulations. We will not hesitate to take action against those individuals or businesses who put people at risk,” he warned.