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Dr Melanie Collard submitted written evidence on COVID and Criminal Law to the Parliament

Melanie Collard

Dr Melanie Collard, Lecturer in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at Brunel Law School submitted to the Parliament written evidence concerning Covid-19 and the criminal law. She has prepared the written evidence along with four colleagues from other universities: Dr Isra Black, University of York; Dr Lisa Forsberg, University of Oxford; Dr Henrique Carvalho, University of Warwick; Dr Anastasia Chamberlen, University of Warwick. The inquiry examines the way in which the Government has created new criminal offences to ensure people follow restrictions and lockdown. It also discusses how the criminal law has been adapted to deal with the pandemic, and how covid-19 offences have been enforced, applied and reviewed by the police, the CPS and the courts.

The summary conclusions of the written evidence are:

  • The legal regime for coronavirus restrictions gives rise to significant concern in respect of compliance with the requirements of the ECHR principle of legality.
  • The government’s extensive use of criminalisation through the made affirmative procedure has deprived coronavirus restrictions of democratic legitimacy and may have reduced public understanding, acceptance, and trust in the legal response to Covid-19.
  • The experience of the response to Covid-19 offers an opportunity to learn lessons about the appropriateness and extent of criminalisation in public health, both in terms of effectiveness and externalities.
  • The use of FPNs as the principal tool of criminalisation of Covid-19 offences risks unintended criminalisation, may be counterproductive to public health objectives, and may further entrench inequality and discrimination.

The evidence considers the law in England only. Read the full paper here.