Police given access to Test and Trace data to track people flouting self-isolation rule

Police forces across England are to be given access to NHS Test and Trace self isolation data.

People in England who have been told to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace could have their details shared with the police on a “case-by-case basis”.

Forces will have access to information telling them if an individual has been told to self-isolate, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

But the British Medical Association said it was worried police involvement might put people off being tested.

Police will be given access to Test and Trace data.
Police will be given access to Test and Trace data.

In England there is a legal requirement to isolate after a positive test.

Just under 11% of people traced as a close contact of someone with coronavirus said they self-isolated for 14 days, according to a government-commissioned study.

Reasons given for breaking self-isolation included believing there was no point isolating from strangers if you cannot properly distance from those in your household; not developing symptoms; or visiting shops or a pharmacy.

A memorandum of understanding was issued between the DHSC and National Police Chiefs’ Council to allow forces to access information that tells them if a “specific individual” has been told to self-isolate, as first reported by the Health Service Journal.

Those who fail to do so face fines starting at £1,000, which can increase to £10,000 for serial offenders or serious breaches.

A DHSC spokesman said it was a legal requirement for people who had tested positive and their close contacts to self-isolate when formally notified to do so.

“The memorandum of understanding ensures that information is shared with appropriate safeguards and in accordance with the law. No testing or health data is shared in this process,” he said.

A spokesman for the British Medical Association, which represents doctors in the UK, said the test-and-trace system needed “the full confidence of the public” to be effective.

He 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.

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said forces would continue to encourage “voluntary compliance” but would enforce regulations and issue fines where appropriate.

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