Patel says drafting of COVID regulations ‘sub-optimal at every single level’
The COVID inquiry is now moving onto how pandemic-era laws were implemented.
At the heart of this issue is how the enforcers – the police – were not involved in the creation of the regulations.
Dame Priti says that the Department of Health and Social Care led the drafting of legislation and the Home Office was not involved “line by line” in its creation.
Instead, Dame Priti says she spent time consulting with police and other bodies and passing that feedback to Matt Hancock’s department.
Asked if she “screamed” at the DHSC for signing laws at the 11th hour that were impossible for the police to enforce within a matter of minutes, Dame Priti said she did.
Dame Priti says the creation of regulations was “sub-optimal at every single level”, and there needs to be a “totally different system” in future if a similar situation occurs.
Moving onto enforcement, Dame Priti is asked how the home secretary can influence the work of police.
She says that, when it comes to things like “egregious breaches”, officers had to exercise their own judgement.
Dame Priti said she had to remind ministerial colleagues during the pandemic that police were operationally independent and it was not for politicians to tell the police how to enforce laws or when to arrest people.
Given the current furore surrounding Suella Braverman’s article in The Times about the Metropolitan Police, this will be seen as a thinly-veiled criticism of the current home secretary.
Back in October, Ms Patel told Sky News that Ms Braverman’s claim “multiculturalism has failed” may have been made “to get attention”.