The Age is reporting the news – unsurprising and welcome … yet still problematic.
Police officers who issued fines for breaches of COVID-19 restrictions have been instructed to hand out cautions for unpaid infringements rather than proceed with charges in a move that the Police Association warns could undermine future enforcement of public health orders.
More than 19,000 penalty notices were issued for breaches of chief health officer orders by October last year. The new direction would mean all but the most egregious offenders will avoid paying.
Some might suggest that wise heads and common sense prevailed.
Here is Jeremy Gans’ take (he is a professor of law at Melbourne Uni and well worth following on Twitter).
Many (including me) predicted this for COVID fines, due to the murkiness of the law in many respects, the trivial nature of much of the individual criminality and the economic and political realities of the pandemic, lockdown and its recovery.
— Jeremy Gans (@jeremy_gans) January 17, 2021
So the very hard line crack down was ‘enforcement theatre’.
Hmmmmmmm – it seems to me that to deploy violence to enforce cooperation when the law is murky and the offences trivial is a form of corruption. Let’s be fair here – not the men and women on the beat – the men and women who gave the orders in full knowledge that unlawful violence was being deployed against a civilian population.