Police were given access to details of those being asked to self-isolate by the UK government’s system

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FILE PHOTO: A staff member walks past a sign as people line up outside a testing center, following an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), in Southend-on-sea, Britain , September 17, 2020. REUTERS / John Sibley

(Reuters) – British police have gained access to details of people who have been asked to self-isolate under the government’s ‘test and trace’ system, the Department of Health said on Saturday evening and Social Affairs (DHSC).

A spokesperson for the department said he agreed with the National Council of Chiefs of Police (NPCC) that officers could have access on a case-by-case basis to information as to whether a specific person has been notified. to self-isolate.

“The MoU ensures that information is shared with appropriate safeguards and in accordance with the law. No tests or health data are shared in this process, ”the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The development was reported earlier by Sky News, which also cited a statement from the NPCC that police will continue to encourage voluntary compliance but will enforce regulations and issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) if necessary.

“When people fail to self-isolate and refuse to comply, officers can issue FPNs and direct people back to isolation. Officers will engage with individuals to establish their situation, using their discretion whenever it is reasonable to do so, ”the NPCC statement read.

The test and traceability system, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to beat the world, has seen setbacks, including an issue identified earlier this month that has delayed the upload of nearly 16,000 cases to computer systems , including for contact tracers.

In recent weeks, the rate of COVID-19 infection has risen sharply in Britain with an accelerated second wave, prompting Johnson and other regional leaders to introduce tighter restrictions and local lockdowns.

Britain has one of the highest death rates from the virus in Europe and has already suffered the worst economic contraction of any major country in the wake of the outbreak.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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