Police and prosecutors are being urged to prioritise only urgent cases where suspects would normally be detained and those relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fresh advice published jointly in Thursday by the Crown Prosecution Service and the College of Policing, says that while the outbreak continues “careful consideration” must be given to what new offences are fed into the criminal justice system and” how those offences are progressed”.
It notes that courts are “currently unable to start any new jury or summary trials and most current trials have had to be stopped because of problems over the attendance of victims, witnesses, defendants, advocates and jurors”.
Cases deemed to be “immediate” are those where the police or investigators seek a charging decision that would lead to a remand in custody. The advice states:
All Covid-19 related cases will be dealt with as immediate cases for the purpose of obtaining a charging decision, whether they are custody or subsequently on bail.
There have been already several, swift prosecutions and convictions of people who have coughed on officers claiming to be infected with the virus.
Other non-priority cases can be listed with a summons up to 84 days ahead, relaxing previous prosecution deadlines.
A CPS spokesperson said:
We are facing unprecedented challenges to the criminal justice system but our message is clear – we have no intention of letting crime go unpunished.
However, priority must be given to the most serious cases to make sure dangerous offenders are dealt with quickly, this is why we have worked with police colleagues to give clear guidelines on this.
Offences which relate to Covid-19, including assaults on emergency workers, will be treated as high priority.
Bath City Farm is to use its Facebook page to broadcast live animal feeding from the farm every Saturday morning and keep people in touch with farm life as they stay at home.
The local charity’s buildings, cafe and toilets will be closed until further notice and all project groups, volunteering, bookings and events have been suspended.
But from 11am on Saturday fans of the farm will be able to see their favourite animals including Pam the pig and piglets and Shetland ponies Dougie and Dougal given brunch during a virtual tour.
Farm manager Helen Fisher said:
We know that the animals mean so much to our visitors and we wanted to give everyone the chance to see how they are doing. This weekly Facebook Live is a great way to keep in touch with your favourites, whether the goats or pigs, and have a unique insight into the life of the farm.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is to stream a selection of his musicals online for free starting with Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The closure everywhere of theatres has led to an unprecedented range of initiatives to get plays and musicals out to people in new ways.
At 7pm on Thursday night the National Theatre will start its “at home” programme with a broadcast on YouTube of its hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors starring James Corden.
Lloyd Webber said he would also use YouTube to stream some of his shows. It begins on Friday 3 April at 7pm with a 1999 film of the stage show, directed by Maria Friedman and starring Osmond as Joseph, Richard Attenborough as his father, Jacob, and Joan Collins as Mrs Potiphar.
A week later, on Good Friday, the show will be the 2012 arena production of Jesus Christ Superstar with Tim Minchin as Judas, Mel C as Mary Magdalene and the radio DJ Chris Moyles as Herod.
Further productions in The Shows Must Go On series will be announced in due course.
The Guardian meanwhile will stream archive content from Hampstead theatre, currently Mike Bartlett’s 2016 Edward Snowden-inspired thriller Wild. It is available until 10pm Sunday 5 April.
A Lake District police chief has expressed concern that isolation fatigue could be settling in for the public as the number of car journeys continues to rise.
Cumbria police last week declared the Lake District “closed” after there was a large increase in visitors despite the government warning against all but essential travel.
Now 10 days into the formal lockdown, Andy Slattery, the assistant chief constable who is leading the region’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, said he was concerned that “boredom and frustration” was setting in and people were getting back into their cars. Figures released by the government on Wednesday showed a recent rise in vehicle use across the UK.
He said the number of visitors to the Lake District had dropped but that police were still having to tell day-trippers to go home:
Our officers have spoken to people who are still coming into the area. We’ve stopped and spoken to day-trippers from the north-east and the north-west thinking it’s still okay to come up to the Lake District for the day – it isn’t.
People should exercise locally; they shouldn’t get into their car to go on day trips to the Lake District because that is against the government guidance.
It is of concern. The bit that concerns me is that people took the prime minister’s advice very seriously as soon as it was issued – I’m worried that the boredom and frustration factor comes into this.
I’m worried that people had decided to stay at home but now a week, 10 days in may bethinking they’ll just get in the car and go here or there.
Slattery said his force had only issued a “very small number” of fines – all for people who were “out without reasonable excuse and refused to return home” – and that enforcement was a “last resort”.
Single parents in Scotland have been stopped from shopping in some major supermarket chains after arriving with their children, as staff enforce strict physical distancing rules.
One Parent Families Scotland says that support workers have heard of a number of instances in Glasgow, Dundee and Ayrshire where single parents have been turned away from stores – usually if they have more than one child with them – or asked to leave their children outside while they do their shopping, with Tesco appearing to apply the new rules particularly strictly.
Satwat Rehman, director of One Parent Families Scotland told the Guardian:
This just requires a bit of common sense. If someone is coming along with their children, it’s usually because there’s nowhere else for those children to be. Parents don’t want to expose their children if they can help it, and most are terrified of becoming ill themselves because there’s no one else to look after their kids.
I can totally understand the need to get a balance with the new social distancing advice, but one in four families with dependent children in Scotland are headed by a single parent so there has to be a work around.
A spokesperson for Tesco insisted that there was no blanket policy banning children from stores, and that, while encouraging people to shop with no more than one other person in line with government guidance, staff were being asked to apply common sense in all circumstances.