By Simon Basketter
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Section 60 orders rise as coppers clamp down over coronavirus

This article is over 4 years, 2 months old
Issue 2703
Police in the Meadows park in Edinburgh over the Easter weekend
Police in the Meadows park in Edinburgh over the Easter weekend (Pic: kaysgeog/Flickr)

Are the cops preparing the ground for repression? They already have extra powers under new laws, such as to fine those deemed to be breaching the lockdown rules.

These rules state, for example, that “no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse”.

But there has now been a spike in the imposition of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in urban areas.

This allows senior cops to sanction searches without any grounds for suspicion if they believe there’s a chance serious violence “will” occur.

Bradford and Liverpool have had repeated orders in place in the last few weeks.

And several London boroughs including Islington, Camden and Hackney have all had section 60 orders in place in the last week.

While the orders are announced usually following a crime they are, even on a positive interpretation, intended to be preventative measures.

They invariably lead to repression. Black and Asian people were nine times more likely to be stopped and searched in England and Wales than white people in 2017-18.

But this rises to 40 times more likely when police use stop and search powers under Section 60.

Some of the overreach by cops to hit the media has seemed trivial. For instance last week they stopped a string quartet playing Shostakovich in a Kensington garden.

But away from the leafy suburbs, the increase in stop and search will have a more severe—and racist—impact.

Poorest are far more likely to die from virus

Poorer areas have been hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Areas of inner city London and Birmingham and Manchester have higher death rates. 

Newham in east London was the worst in Britain with 144 deaths per 100,000 people—compared to the national average of 36. It is the poorest borough in London, with 48 percent of people living in poverty. 

Brent in west London had 141.5 deaths per 100,000 people and nearby Hackney had 127.4. 

Labour mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said the figures were down to “the links between inequality, poverty, ethnicity and health”.

The poorest 10 percent of postcodes across England and Wales have a death rate of 55 per 100,000 people. That’s compared to a death rate of 25 per 100,000 people in the richest 10 percent.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot said that coronavirus was not the “great leveller”—but had showed up “underlying health inequalities”.

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