NHS ID not good enough to prove "Essential travel"

Worrying times indeed - that police have reportedly stopped NHS staff (here) and would not accept their NHS ID card as good enough evidence for "essential travel".

There are people saying that it should be good enough to show "essential travel", and others saying that it is crazy the police don't think NHS staff are doing "essential work" or are "key workers". I agree that it is wrong, but these comments show people don't understand the rules at all (and clearly, neither do the police). There is no need to prove you are on "essential travel" as there is no law against "travel". Similarly there is no law saying only "essential work" can be done, or only "key workers" can work.

But first, again, please stay at home if you can - be sensible.

So let's look at the logic here a bit. There are a couple of key rules - one on public gatherings (not relevant) and one on leaving the place where you live.

Update: The college of police have released more guidance (here).

Update: as of 11am on 22nd April the law changed to cover "being outside" not just "leaving". Here.

No "stop and account" power.

The first problem is that the police (see this report) have no "stop and account" power anyway.

"The helpful National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing Guidance makes clear that there is no power to “stop and account”. Therefore, the police should not be intercepting people who they do not suspect to be causing health risks by their behaviour in violation of Regulation 6 or 7."

They also say road checks on every vehicle are disproportionate.

So why were they stopping someone anyway? Note the "causing health risks" part - this is public health law, not public order law, so they don't just have to suspect you left where you live without reasonable excuse, they have to think you are causing a public health risk by doing so. It is hard to see how anyone in a car driving on a road is "causing a health risk" at all. Yes, they could be doing something stupid, and there are laws on public gatherings, but just driving in a card, especially if alone, clear is not in itself a public health risk.

Plague spreaders?

Obviously, the police should also not, themselves, be causing a health risk - yet stopping and questioning people does just that as they become "plague spreaders" as they are in contact with so many people, and are doing it deliberately! Stopping NHS staff is even worse as they too are high risk not just of having the virus (spreading to police) but also of spreading it to those vulnerable (in hospital).

Where are you going?

We don't know what was actually asked when they stopped this NHS worker. I would not be surprised if they asked where someone is going - accounts from friends who have been stopped suggest this is the case. I have heard reports of someone stopped when going to tend to their horse and having to make an hour long round trip back home to get proof that they have a horse and where it is stabled, and so on. This is crazy!

Actually the only relevant question to ask is "For what reason did you leave where you live?"

But even that is a bit of a useless question. Nothing you are doing now has to relate to why you left where you live. Whilst you don't even have to say why, you can say any of the reasons listed (here) and there is really no way a police officer, or anyone else, can really prove beyond reasonable doubt whether that was or was not your "reason" when you actually left where you live. It is hard to even justify simply suspecting someone of leaving for some other reason as they can leave for one reason and be doing something else now - so current actions do not have to relate to the "reason". Yes, the law is a tad daft if so unenforceable - but most people try follow the law which makes it a useful law even so.

Where do you work?

One presumes the NHS staff member said they were going to work, i.e. they left where they live as they need to travel for work for the NHS. So what is the next question, perhaps "where do you work?".

Actually the only relevant question to ask is "Could you do that work at home?"

But even that is a bit of a useless question. If you say "no", the police officer cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that is not the case, can he/she? Even if your work is done solely on a computer that does not mean you have a computer, or your computer is or can be set up to allow that work. Even if set up to work from home, if your Internet link breaks or computer breaks or any other reason, you may not be currently able to do that work from home.

Thankfully, with a lot of work from our ops team, my work has set up so that all but one person is working from home, and doing a great job, but that is not the case for many companies, and almost impossible to prove that someone can work from home.

Essential work?

Some people have suggested it is crazy that the police did not consider NHS work essential, but again, there is no question of what the work is - everyone is allowed to work, and allowed to leave where they live if they need to travel for work if they cannot do it from home.

A gardener, or florist, or bricklayer, can all work and can leave where they live to travel for work if they cannot do that work at home. What ID would police expect to see for such workers to somehow justify their "essential travel"?

Essential travel?

Even the news article talks of proving it was essential travel, and that NHS ID was not good enough to prove that. But again travel is not limited to "essential travel". It is not even limited to "travel for work" - just that one of the reasonable excuses for leaving home is that you need to travel for work. There are many other reasons to leave home that could involve travelling including to go some where to exercise, or to go shopping. But these are not actually the only reasons allowed for "travel" as travel itself is not in any way restricted or banned! Essential travel is not a "thing".

Proving innocence!

There is a big issue, in my view, with people somehow expected to prove their innocence, and even be able to do that on the spot or face a fine - or be turned back, or escorted home.

Why does it matter?

  • Police should enforce just the law, and not "policy" - the fact that government guidelines go beyond the law and that police are trying to enforce "guidelines" and not just the law is bad - it is the very concept of a "police state", but importantly it undermines trust and respect in the police. We should trust and respect the police, especially at a time like this. But in return they need to actually follow the rules and the law.
  • Stopping NHS workers getting to work is just plain stupid, not legal, and very much not in the interests of public health.
  • Police can be spreading the virus far more than the people they are stopping and talking to. That undermines the whole public health objectives and means more people will die.

That said, obviously, it is sensible to only leave home if you have to, and only to travel where you have to, and wash your hands. But the police have no place demanding people justify their travel at all - it is all about the reason for leaving where you live, not where you are going or even why you are going somewhere, nor how far you are going.

But once again, please stay home and only go out if you really need - and wash you hands!


  1. I hate to say it, but the evidence keeps coming up that the Police are a bunch of fools. Is there no one in the Police force with any logic or reasoning?

    Oh here's another stupid thing (in my opinion). The public toilets where I live (Suffolk) Have all been closed. Before I went out shopping I would wash my hands at home, walk to the town - use the bank machine, and then wash my hands again in the public toilets, before shopping.

    Once I had my shopping, once again I would was my hands in the public toilets (The wash basins. not the loo! lol)

    This has probably reduced the cleanliness of many people who would of used the facility. They were closed unannounced.

    One thing I also noticed is that there is no mention of social distancing, or 2m in the Corona Virus Bill. I could of missed it, but I'm sure its not there.

    Keep safe Rev, and keep up this great blog.

  2. Hate to say it, but the world is now a police state. Brexit and Trump have p*ssed off the Satantic Elites and they have released CV/C-19 out of spite to tell the human race f*ck you. Then they ordered this world-wide lock down as a 2nd f*ck you. Then the police invented their own policy/law to enforce as a 3rd f*ck you. So now we have three problems on our hands not just one. *Sighs*

  3. I remember watching a fly-on-the-wall documentary following new police recruits in their classroom and physical training. It must have been 20 years ago now. I remember seeing one recruit who was very clued up, wise, switched-on and questioning. He asked for details. He wanted to understand the finer points of the laws. He wanted clarification where he could see inconsistencies between the law and the various interpretations thereof. I was impressed. A few episodes later he was "removed from the training course for being disruptive and not having the right attitude" or words to that effect. The voiceover narrator made clear that his type were a bad influence on the other recruits and were not welcome. Wish I could remember the name of the documentary.

    1. Found it. It was called 'Raw Blues'.


      Filmed in 1999 at the Met's training school at Hendon. Broadcast in 2000.

      The intelligent trainee officer that I was remember was called Mike. His removal from the training course is explained at 1 hr 24 mins. At that is the point at which the recording is redacted on YouTube. Which is odd.

      There is another copy on YouTube. That recording is also cut at the same point.

      Obviously one has to watch the whole 1 hr 24 mins prior to Mike's departure to understand his attitude and approach to policing.

  4. A disabled man in the UK received a police visit because his neighbor offered to cut his grass during the coronavirus lockdown.

    Yes, really.

    63-year-old Adrian Rimington said his friend visited to offer the good deed but that after he left, two Derbyshire Police officers knocked on his door.

    “One said ‘we’ve had a report from someone that your gardener entered your house in order to plug in your lawnmower’,” said Rimington.

    Rimington denied that his neighbor had entered the house, saying the lawnmower cable was handed to him through a window.

    Despite Rimington attempting to clear up the situation, the officers then visited his neighbor’s house and threatened the good samaritan with a fine if he repeated the behavior.

    “It’s ridiculous, ludicrous,” said Rimington. “My friend lives nearby and he didn’t come into my house. I am disabled and he was simply helping me by mowing my lawn, as he has done for 15 years. He was being kind – he didn’t deserve a police warning.”

    The other factor here is that the police visit was obviously prompted by Rimington being grassed up by another one of his neighbors.

    Over the past week, we have documented numerous examples of police arbitrarily enforcing the lockdown law in a draconian manner.

    – Two different police forces threatened to inspect people’s shopping bags for “non-essential” items, prompting the government to remind them this isn’t in the law.

    – Numerous people have been fined for buying alcohol and other items deemed “non-essential,” despite this not being against the law.

    – A female police officer ordered a family to go inside because their children were playing in their own front garden. Again, this isn’t against the law.

    – A man received an intimidating visit from police because he reported that Muslims were visiting mosques in violation of social distancing rules.

    – Another man had his door smashed in and house searched by police because they erroneously thought he was having a social gathering.

    – Another police force bragged about ‘hiding in the shadows’ to catch picnic-goers in rural locations.

    If police forces continue to act irrationally in enforcing the rules, which up until this point have been followed and supported by the public, that support will quickly begin to evaporate.

    1. A social gathering not in a public place is not even disallowed FFS, but importantly - for most of your comments of "not against the law" should also be "not a public health risk" either.

  5. Police officers in London accusing a journalist of “killing people” for filming them in a park.

    The incident began when journalist Michael Segalov witnessed an encounter between a woman and police during which the officers appeared to be harassing her.

    He began recording the confrontation on his phone but was soon surrounded by several officers, one of whom told him, “You’re killing people. Go home,” while clearly standing closer than social distancing rules mandate.

    According to a letter of complaint filed by solicitors at ITN, the news channel Segalov works for, the journalist actually felt the spittle of one of the officers land on his face during the exchange.

    One of the officers, Sergeant Brown, repeatedly provides his name and number to stress that he is proud of what he is doing.

    It subsequently emerged that the officers were hassling the woman because they thought she was “clearly not exercising” and told her to leave the park.

    The irony of an officer invading someone’s personal space to enforce social distancing rules which require a 2 meter gap and then accusing the other person of “killing people” cannot be overemphasized.

    Segalov is now demanding an investigation of the officers involved and a public apology.

    “This is absolutely shameful policing. The officers should be investigated and @MikeSegalov must get the apology he deserves,” said Big Brother Watch in response to the incident.

    As we previously highlighted, there have been innumerable examples of police officers in the UK abusing their powers during the lockdown, from a female officer who told a family their kids couldn’t play on their own front garden, to a man who received a police visit for cutting his disabled neighbor’s grass.

  6. They are using the coronavirus pandemic to enact an authoritarian takeover.

  7. @RevK New guidance is out for you guys down in Englandshire

    1. Indeed, as you can see I added a link near the top of this post a few days ago to that.

  8. RevK, take a look at https://www.youtube.com/user/ThomasSheridanArts/videos

  9. Be careful what you wish for, clearly the gov are trying to be as liberal as they can, they first asked people to use common sense and voluntarily stay at home, people didnt, so they then had to impose restrictions, the police were told to enforce these restrictions with a light touch so e.g the fines are a complete joke, and no one is going to jail for it, if you get what you wish for, then the gov could make it law, and suddenly its more permanent, and the fines might be higher, people might go to jail for it, so yes be careful what you wish for.

    I got stopped by the police once when I was walking home at 3am, I didnt think for one moment was it legal, I cooperated respecting they doing a job, and I was eventually told to go on my way.

    What we have now is very light lockdown procedures, people are allowed out for exercise, many business are still been allowed to run when they not really essential, and the police are not beating anyone up, dragging them off to cells etc. If you think this is heavy then check policing from the 80s and earlier.

    1. I am not "wishing" for any more. The big issues are people meeting up socially, and police have powers to stop groups in public places. I know personally of several people stopped incorrectly, and demands for ID, and even sent back home, incorrectly. The difference now is that if a policeman decides to stop you walking home at 3am for no valid reason he is now risking infecting you or getting infected by you. That is much more serious than simply causing you minor inconvenience for a few minutes.


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