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Call for evidence

Covid-19 and the criminal law

In order to protect public health, the Government has created a number of new criminal offences to ensure compliance with restrictions and lockdowns. Many of these offences are set out in regulations made under the powers in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. A number of these new offences empower the police to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of the rules in the regulations. If a Fixed Penalty Notice is not paid then the defendant can risk a criminal prosecution. Since the lockdown began, the courts have dealt with a number of cases arising from the covid-19 regulations. This inquiry will examine the way in which the government has created these new offences, 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 Crown Prosecution Service and the courts.

Terms of reference:

The Committee is seeking views on:

  • The process by which covid-19 criminal offences have been created, including the role of the made affirmative procedure and the consultation process inside and outside Government.
  • The design of covid-19 criminal offences, including the use of Fixed Penalty Notices and relationship between these new offences and existing criminal offences.
  • The checks and balances in place to review the way that these offences are being policed and prosecuted, including the role of the Crown Prosecution Service in reviewing cases.
  • The role of the courts in dealing with covid-19 cases, including the use of the single justice procedure and the way in which covid-19 offences and Fixed Penalty Notices can be appealed, challenged or contested in court.

Please send submissions of no more than 1,500 words through the online portal by 9 April 2021. We would welcome early submissions.

This call for written evidence has now closed.

Go back to Covid-19 and the criminal law Inquiry