The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that 44 people have been incorrectly charged under the new Coronavirus Act to date, stating that the “vast majority were not represented.”
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If you have been arrested for offences relating to the Coronavirus Act, or the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations, please contact our criminal defence solicitors for immediate legal advice. We specialise in defending criminal charges and are available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mistakes made under the Coronavirus Act
The Coronavirus Act, the emergency legislation which was rushed through Parliament in March, allows police officers to force anyone suspected of having Covid-19 to undergo screening. However, there must be evidence that someone is infected first. The police should also be acting on the advice of health care workers.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now admitted that 44 people have been incorrectly charged under the Act. In each, there was no evidence that the accused was infected. Of the 44 cases, 31 were discontinued at the first court hearing, and 13 went on to be charged with a different offence.
Mistakes made under the Health Protection Regulations
Mistakes have also been made in relation to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations, which differs from the Coronavirus Act and enforces the government’s lockdown measures. Out of 187 cases brought to court under the regulations, 12 people have been wrongly charged and five convictions have been quashed.
The problems have been attributed to the rushed nature of the regulations, which has afforded little time for the police to become acquainted with the rules. As a result, some officers have been acting on what politicians say – which does not always tally with the actual rules.
Further confusion stems from the fact that the legislation in England is different to that in Wales. There have been reports of police officers in England wrongly applying the stricter Welsh laws, along with claims over overzealous police departments.
“Some failures” made, CPS admits
The director of public prosecutions, Max Hill QC, said there has been “some failure” by the police, who have been given the authority to make the charging decision. He also said that the “vast majority” of people charged were “not represented” by their own criminal defence solicitor. This would have led to the mistakes being spotted earlier.
Speaking to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee, Mr Hill QC revealed that some level of supervision is set to be introduced in police stations. This is to check whether an alleged offence should be brought under the Coronavirus Act or the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations.
“I recognise that if you have been through the system and it turns out you should never have been charged at all, that’s wrong,” he added.
If you have been arrested in relation to the new coronavirus rules, please do not assume that you have been correctly charged. There have been many examples across the country of police failing to correctly interpret legislation.
Our criminal defence solicitors have a thorough understanding of the law and keep abreast of new developments. We can assess the charges laid against you and advise whether you have been incorrectly charged or convicted. If so, we will act on your behalf, working to ensure that justice is achieved.
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