There has been a surge in the number of coronavirus cases across the UK which prompted the imposing of lockdown restrictions.
Concerns have been raised as hundreds are being fined for breaking “unclear and ambiguous” lockdown rules. A parliamentary committee disapproved the fixed penalty notices (FPNs) and said that they are “unacceptable”.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights said that a number of police officers did not fully understand their powers. It has expressed criticism of the way these regulations were being applied and said it having a “disproportionate impact” on young men from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
It has warned that most of the regulations were “confusingly named” making it hard for the people to establish what exactly they were and were not entitled to do.
“This will invariably lead to injustice as members of the public who have been unfairly targeted with an FPN have no means of redress and police will know that their actions are unlikely to be scrutinised,” the parliamentary committee said.
Regulations have been changing at least once every week and the parliamentary committee has called for the government to clarify what exactly was prohibited by the criminal law since on “many thousands” are being fined.
“In particular, more must be done to make the up-to-date regulations themselves (not only guidance) clearly accessible online, particularly as the law has changed, on average, once a week,” the committee said.
“It ought to be straightforward for a member of the public to find out what the current criminal law is, nationally and in their local area, without having to trawl through multiple sets of confusingly named regulations.”
However, as of now, there is no realistic way for the people to challenge the FPNs which could result in fines in excess of £10,000.