Despite imposing draconian measures to try to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the British authorities are failing to get a sufficient grip on the situation.
One of the biggest challenges facing the authorities is the reportedly widespread public flouting of the laws and guidelines recently introduced by the government.
In one dramatic incident, the police raided a property where a “massive” karaoke party – involving 25 adults and children – was in full swing.
Derbyshire Police, which conducted the raid, tweeted they are in “absolute shock” to discover such a large gathering in complete defiance of emergency laws and guidelines.
Group 1 Officers have just attended an address in absolute shock to find 25 adults and children having a massive party with speakers and karaoke. Everyone dispersed and hosts dealt with.
It is clear people are still having complete disregard for the Government advice and rules. pic.twitter.com/g3GFGhFN6e
— Derby West Response (@DerWestResponse) March 29, 2020
The illegal party in Derbyshire does not appear to be an aberration. Indeed, in the south of the country, Crawley Police has tweeted they have learnt of “parties in houses” and “neighbor gatherings”.
— Crawley Police (@Crawley_Police) March 28, 2020
In an effort to enforce emergency coronavirus-related laws, police forces across England and Wales are asking the public to inform them of any breaches of the nation-wide lockdown.
But this advice is leading to the bizarre – if not frivolous – situation of neighbors informing on each other for banal and inane reasons.
The BBC reported on March 26 that Northamptonshire Police had been deluged with “dozens and dozens” of calls from people reporting their neighbors for “going out for a second run”.
On a more serious note, there have also been instances of coronavirus-related criminal offences, where people have deliberately coughed, sneezed or even spat at critical care workers, including police officers.
In one particularly egregious incident a 48-year-old man from Mansfield (Nottinghamshire) was jailed for a year after he was found guilty of spitting at police officers while claiming he had coronavirus.
In another incident, a 43-year-old-man from Stroud (Gloucestershire) has been charged with assault after he coughed in the face of a paramedic who had come to help him.
These incidents appear to indicate insufficient social resilience and lack of respect for authority in the face of a national emergency.
The government’s greatest fear is the imminent threat to public order – and potentially to national security even – if these incidents multiplied and writ large in the form of riots and looting.
In the event of a breakdown in public order the British army is likely to intervene as per the mission statement set out in Operation Rescript, which has been described as the UK military’s largest mobilization since the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.
In a sign that the coronavirus pandemic could potentially touch off serious social and political instability in the UK, the military is undergoing its biggest mobilization in 17 years to meet the threat.
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