Coronavirus act 2020

The curious case of the coronavirus conviction

Last Saturday, a 41-year-old woman was arrested for what police described as ‘loitering between platforms’ at Newcastle Central station. By Monday, she had been successfully prosecuted – finding herself with a criminal conviction for breaching the newly enacted Coronavirus Act 2020. Days later, the conviction was dropped after police accepted they had misunderstood the law.  Why does all this matter? Well, clearly it’s important when law enforcement misuses some of the most draconian legislation passed in living memory. But the case tells us something else about the state of our criminal justice system. British justice, like the other parts of our constitution, is designed precisely so that failures like this do not occur.