Covid emergency powers

Let's say, theoretically, you decide to mix four households instead of three for Christmas, your stasi neighbours get wind of it and report you to the police, and the police actually give a fuck and show up on your doorstep.

Do they actually have any power to enter your home and count who is there and demand proof of where they live?

And what if not everyone can even prve where they live? Say one person doesn't have any proof of address because she is the live-in girlfriend of one of the other people (so they are one household) and doesn't have a driving licence or her name on any of the bills.

Asking for a friend.

I realise it will not happen but try to approach this as an exam question. I'm interested in the legal position.

It is obviously nonsense as people can just claim they are in a ‘bubble’ if push comes to shove, which it won’t because on Christmas Day there will be about 4 mobile units on duty per county and they will be dealing with actual crimes.

And let’s give a big hand to Bristol’s second best clergham tribute act.

Isn't the answer to all of this, regardless of the precise legal position, "don't be a twat".  (A statement of general application).  In particular don't bang on and on about pubs being closed and how that is an outrage in a all too solipistic way.

I'm only really interested in the legal position. These hypothetical people are going to do what they want anyway.

I think the main imperative for people sticking to the rules, or indeed not going as far as the rules allow will be protecting vulnerable people in the family.   Most families have 70 year plus relatives and while some will throw caution to the wind I anticipate many will think it is worth waiting couple of months for the older relatives to be vaccinated before having a big family party.  That is under active discussion in my family.

Ah that changes things. The over 70s don’t matter- most of them are just dribbling incontinent care home bed blockers in hock to Big Mask.

There is no power of entry into private homes unless they can show they think there is someone in there who is infectious and needs removing for medical testing / treatment.  

I can't remember if the threshold is suspect / believe but, either way, it makes no real difference.  The police were not interested in enforcing this on or around Christmas day.

I hazard a guess there will be more reports of domestics over 24-26 December then there are of Covid breaches, despite the Stasi neighbours.  


I mean, it changes things in the sense that the over 70s don't need to be taken into account for the purposes of this hypothetical scenario, where the oldest people are in their early 60s and in good health.

Yes, I mean all this stuff about care homes is a bit misleading. The idea of imprisoning a largely healthy and economically active population so granny can get another 4 months in a care home is a bit ridiculous. 

The average life expectancy of people once admitted to care homes is 2 years. 

For many of them this will be their last Christmas. 

Also this. If I were in a care home I'd rather get hugs from all my family, get Covid and die two weeks later than spend the next 10 months effectively in isolation and then die.

If you get caught (as above, unlikely) then just make sure you are all over the drink drive limit. Police can't force you to drink drive home so you can just pay the fine and enjoy the rest of your day.

Alas, one of these hypothetical people will be having a teetotal Christmas.

Yeah but did the police force entry, or did someone let them in?

We all know that the only people who get fined for not having a TV licence are the ones who don't realise they don't have to let anyone in without a warrant.



No idea re entry, but presumably if the Police have the powers to fine and enforce the law, that includes entry to check whether anyone is breaking the law

Not necessarily (as with TV licensing).

If the police forced entry into the student house, I imagine it could have been on the basis of some sort of general police power to enforce law and order, rather than needing a Covid-specific power.

So I'd be interested to know whether they currently have any Covid-specific powers to enter a private home where they don't have reason to believe anyone is in danger, or that the family is sheltering a fugitive from justice, and no nuisance is being caused to the neighbours, simply to check who is in there.

As I understand it, the people employed to check whether someone recently arrived in the UK is quarantining will only visit the house after they have failed to make contact with the person by phone. And even then they're only supposed to be checking that the person is there, not necessarily entering the property. (Supplementary question: what happens if there is no land line and you can only give a mobile number?)

Police, broadly speaking, have their powers of entry under s.17 and s.18 Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

The main ones are - 

Arrest someone for an either way or indictable offence.  They have to believe the person is in the property before they can do this so will probably need to have seen them through a window or been told they are definitely in there by a neighbour. 

On warrant issued by a  Court.

To enter and search after arrest, either under s.32 PACE (person recently at home) or s.18 (Inspectors authority).

To protect life and limb - we are talking someone in the property is thought to be seriously injured /  incapacitated / possibly dead.  


Coronavirus Regs are not indictable and the risk to life or limb is not sufficiently real or immediate to justify s.17.  They contain no specific power of entry unless someone in the property is though to be infectious.  

As such, you can politely decline to open the door of a private dwelling to plod and there is absolutely nothing they can do.  

F'kin hell Martian - won't be dialling you (or most other Roffers) up if I get lifted over Christmas ;-)

s.32 and s.18 only apply to either way + indictable offences BTW, so not summary only stuff.

Thank you EP. That was exactly the kind of response I was looking for.