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PSNI tight-lipped on legal advice obtained over enforcement of coronavirus restrictions

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The PSNI has again refused to release legal advice on which Covid-19 restriction actions were based. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

The PSNI has again refused to release legal advice on which Covid-19 restriction actions were based. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

The PSNI has again refused to release legal advice on which Covid-19 restriction actions were based. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

The PSNI has again refused to release legal advice on which Covid-19 restriction actions were based.

However, it said that partner agencies, including two government departments, were fully supportive of the stance originally taken.

The Department of Health and Department of Justice have placed responsibility for enforcement firmly with police, although neither will comment on the legal advice provided or if they obtained their own.

The PSNI was asked to review its decision not to release legal advice around Covid-19 restrictions given this was used as the basis for enforcement.

A spokesperson said: "Whilst our legal advice is subject to legal privilege, we understand the need to be transparent and accountable to the community on this issue.

"It is therefore important to note that our current approach was developed with the benefit of other legal consultation and guidance and that it has the support of a range of partners including the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Northern Ireland Executive including the Department of Health and the Department of Justice."

Earlier, police and health authorities voiced concern that the debate over social distancing regulations will encourage people to ignore official advice in Northern Ireland.

It is not always possible to give individual answers on what constitutes an offence for the countless hypothetical scenarios which may arise, the joint statement from the PSNI and Department of Health said.

The statement said: "We are deeply concerned the current discourse may serve to undermine public confidence in the overall regulations and encourage some people to ignore the strong guidance from the NI Executive - with potentially devastating consequences."

Belfast Telegraph