It has been revealed that people who live in England and have been told to self-isolate via the NHS Test and Trace service could have their details shared with the police.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) updated its online guidance regarding Covid-19 testing and privacy information on Friday 16 October to include the new information.
The DHSC states that police forces will be able to access information pertaining to whether an individual has been instructed to self-isolate via NHS Test and Trace.
The guidance states, “If there is evidence to suggest you are not complying with the duty to self-isolate without reasonable justification, you local authority may pass this information on to local police forces to investigate further.
“This may lead to enforcement action being taken against you, which could include you being fined.
“A police force may request information relating to positive Covid-19 tests from the NHS Test & Trace programme directly, where they are investigating a report of someone who may not be complying with the mandatory self isolation period.”
What would happen if you’re found breaking the law?
Anyone who has received a positive Covid-19 test must self-isolate for 10 days after showing symptoms. Members of their household or close contacts must self-isolate for 14 days.
Those who do not self-isolate after being told to do so are committing a criminal offence.
You could face a fine of up to £1,000, and repeat offenders could receive penalties of up to £10,000. These fines also apply to the close contacts of someone who has tested positive.
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson said that police would continue to encourage “voluntary compliance”, but would enforce regulations and fines where needed.
“Where people fail to self-isolate and refuse to comply, officers can issue FPNs and direct people to return to self-isolation,” they explained.
“Officers will engage with individuals to establish their circumstances, using their discretion wherever it is reasonable to do so.”
Policy should be reversed
Sir Ed Davy, Liberal Democrats leader, said that the policy should be reversed “urgently” by ministers.
He argued, “Anything that further undermines that public’s dwindling trust in this government’s handling of the pandemic is damaging, and few things could have been better designed to do that, than this.”
Sir Davy called the decision to allow people’s Covid-19 test data to be shared with police a huge mistake.
“Asking our already over stretched police service to take on this task is both self-defeating and a serious misjudgement,” he added.
A spokesperson for the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors in the UK, said that in order for the test and trace system to be effective, then it needed “the full confidence of the public.”
They said, “We are already concerned that some people are deterred from being tested because they are anxious about loss of income should they need to self-isolate - and we are worried should police involvement add to this.
“There, the government’s emphasis should be on providing support to people - financial and otherwise - if they need to self-isolate, so that no one is deterred from coming forward for a test.”