BANGED-UP BRITAIN: Police in riot van quiz petrified girl, 12, about self-isolating as country is paralysed with 900,000 stay-home alerts issued in a week bringing hospitals, firms and family life to a chaotic halt

  • Officers came to her home in a ‘riot van’, prompting a ‘meltdown’ from schoolgirl
  • Shocked mother Kathryn yesterday branded the police response ‘overkill’  
  • Throughout the pandemic, police have faced accusations of heavy-handedness 

A terrified 12-year-old girl hid behind her mother when police turned up at her home to check that she was self-isolating – afraid she was going to be arrested.

Officers then came to her home the next evening in what the family said was a riot van, prompting a ‘meltdown’ from the bewildered schoolgirl.

Charlotte Crook had been at home following the rules after a positive coronavirus test and her shocked mother Kathryn yesterday branded the police response ‘overkill’.

Throughout the pandemic, police have faced accusations of heavy-handedness in enforcing Covid restrictions.

It comes after a record half-a-million Brits were told to self-isolate by NHS Covid app last week, amid mounting concerns over the chaos triggered by the ‘pingdemic’.   

And nearly 900,000 alerts telling people to quarantine were issued in the first week of this month following contact with a coronavirus victim.

The ‘pingdemic’ is causing chaos for families and firms, prompting business leaders to demand changes on the NHS Covid-19 app to avoid a ‘self-inflicted economic wound’.

NHS chiefs warned the system was making it ‘increasingly difficult’ to deliver routine care. 

Another 48,553 Covid cases were reported yesterday, the highest total since January, with 63 more deaths. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned daily Covid infections were likely to top 100,000 after restrictions are lifted on Monday. That could force around half a million a day to self-isolate. 

The rising numbers of people being forced into self-isolation has led unions to warn that factories across the country are on the ‘verge of shutting’ down.   

Up to 900 workers at car giant Nissan’s flagship plant in Sunderland are being made to self-isolate, it was claimed today. 

Around 10 per cent of staff working at the Japanese car firm’s manufacturing site in Sunderland were pinged by the app.  

Officers from Greater Manchester Police arrived at the Crook family home in Middleton on Sunday and asked to speak directly to Charlotte. ‘They would not tell me and my husband why they wanted to speak to my daughter,’ Mrs Crook, 45, said yesterday.

Charlotte Crook had been at home in Middleton, Greater Manchester, following the rules after a positive coronavirus test when police arrived in a ‘riot van’.

Officers came to her home the next evening in what the family said was a riot van, prompting a ‘meltdown’ from the bewildered schoolgirl

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

And the number of alerts sent out in relation to venues also more than doubled in seven days

‘I suggested that she was only 12 and as her mother, I should be the one they should speak to.

‘My daughter by this time was stood behind me, crouching, thinking she had done something wrong and was petrified.’

She claimed the officer ‘shouted’ to Charlotte to check she was isolating.

The following day the family tried to find out what had happened and contacted their Tory MP Chris Clarkson – only for officers to return at 9pm. ‘It was the police again, this time in a riot van and coming to ‘check’ again that my daughter was isolating,’ said Mrs Crook.

‘It was terribly upsetting again for my daughter and she had another meltdown, again thinking the police were going to arrest her.’

Last March, Derbyshire Police were branded ‘sinister’ for releasing drone footage of people out walking in the Peak District during lockdown – even though exercise was permitted.

In January, the same force came under fire after its officers ‘surrounded’ friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore and fined them £200 each for walking by a reservoir. It later quashed the fines after a national outcry.

Last November qualified nurse Ylenia Angeli, 73, was arrested for trying to remove her 97-year-old mother Tina Thornborough – who she had not been able to hug for nine months – from her care home in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire. Mrs Thornborough’s granddaughter, former Coronation Street actress Leandra Ashton, 42, branded the police action ‘ridiculous’. She was later released without charge.

In January, the same force came under fire after its officers ‘surrounded’ friends Jessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore (right) and fined them £200 each for walking by a reservoir. It later quashed the fines after a national outcry

Yesterday Charlotte’s mother, a college work placement officer, accused officials of behaving in a ‘completely inappropriate and heavy-handed’ manner. Charlotte, a pupil at The Blue Coat School in Oldham, had been isolating since a positive PCR test on July 4.

She was due out of isolation on Wednesday. Her mother said a member of staff from NHS Test and Trace rang on July 5 asking to speak to Charlotte.

‘They said they wanted to speak to her,’ said Mrs Crook. ‘When I asked them if the data provided would be anonymous they said they could not guarantee her details would not be passed on to contacts. At this point, I said I did not consent to her data being used as she is only 12 and a minor.’

After the call, Charlotte’s case was passed to Rochdale council who asked police to check if the rules were being breached.

Mrs Thornborough’s granddaughter, former Coronation Street actress Leandra Ashton (left), 42, branded the police action ‘ridiculous’. She was later released without charge

The council confirmed the case has been closed as they were satisfied that Charlotte was self-isolating.

But Mrs Crook said: ‘My daughter was thinking she was going to get arrested at any moment.’ Rochdale council said details were passed to local authorities where the national Test and Trace team is not able to contact someone to confirm they are isolating.

Hundreds of workers told to self-isolate at Sunderland car factory 

A car factory in Sunderland has been thrown into chaos by the NHS app, with hundreds told to isolate.

Reports suggest up to 900 workers are being forced to stay at home after receiving ‘pings’.

Nissan said it has ‘adjusted’ production at the Wearside site, which employs 7,000 people.

But unions are warning many factories are approaching collapse with so many staff members forced to stay home by self-isolation warnings.

Nissan said it had ‘a number of staff being required to self-isolate following close contact with Covid’.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: ‘No one is advocating for Covid controls to go out the window and Unite’s number one priority remain the health and safety of our members.

‘But the reports Unite is receiving from our members and their employers are extremely worrying.

‘It is not an exagerration to say factories are on the verge of shutting and that at some sites hundreds of staff are off work.’ 

‘It is important that people carry out their legal duty to isolate so that other people are protected from the virus,’ it said.

Last night Charlotte’s parents said they had now received an apology from Greater Manchester Police and did not wish to take matters further.

A spokesman for the force said it was contacted if there was a suspected breach of the rules ‘to carry out the checks and issue a fixed penalty notice if required’.

Despite the vehicle having a protective shield on its windscreen, the force insisted it was not a riot van and was instead one ‘commonly used by district officers’.

The rising numbers of people being forced into self-isolation has led unions to warn that factories across the country are on the ‘verge of shutting’ down.   

Up to 900 workers at car giant Nissan’s flagship plant in Sunderland are being made to self-isolate, it was claimed today. 

Around 10 per cent of staff working at the Japanese car firm’s manufacturing site in Sunderland were pinged by the app. 

People told to isolate by the app are under no legal requirement to do so because their identity is not tracked by the software. 

But fears have been raised that the software could cripple the nation’s already fragile economy this summer when restrictions are completely lifted. 

Businesses demanding a re-think of the rules have warned supermarket shelves may be left empty if tens of thousands of workers are told they must self-isolate in the coming weeks.

There are also fears piles of rubbish may pile up in the street some bin collections in Liverpool have already been cancelled from next week because too many staff are isolating to run the service.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today admitted No10 was ‘concerned’ about the number of people who may have to self-isolate because of the app.

Official figures released today show the contact-tracing app sent out 520,000 self-isolation alerts last week.

The number of ‘pings’ dished out by the software in the week ending July 7 was the highest since the data was first published in January, and was up 46 per cent on the previous seven-day spell.

NHS Covid app (pictured) will not be made less sensitive for weeks, reports say

Despite fears the chaos will only get worse over the next few weeks with infections expected to continue surging, it was claimed that the contact-tracing app may not be watered down after all. 

Government officials have been tasked with tweaking the software so fewer people are ‘pinged’ and told to self-isolate.

But sources told The Times that it was possible no changes will be made, and that if they are, they won’t happen until August 16 — the same day quarantine rules end for the fully-vaccinated.   

NHS England data showed a record number of positive cases were linked to the app last week, as the third wave gathers steam.

Infections have soared over the past weeks, with some experts attributing the sharp rise to England’s progress to the final of Euro 2020. 

There were 86,000 positive cases logged with the software, up 40 per cent on the 61,000 in the previous week.

And the number of alerts sent linked to venues more than doubled to 1,247 places.

These are sent when someone has visited a location, like a pub or restaurant, on the same day as another person who later tested positive for the virus. 

Ministers are understood to have been spooked out of tweaking the app by the soaring infection rates.

Britain yesterday recorded 42,000 cases in the highest figure since mid-January, as the second wave was beginning to die down. Ministers fear they could spiral to 100,000 a day by mid-August.

Up to 10 per cent of staff working at Nissan’s car plant in Sunderland (pictured) have been told to self-isolate by the app

Thinktanks have claimed the rise in cases could see up to 2million people told to quarantine at home every week by the app, unless it is watered down.   

Thousands of ministers and officials are escaping self-isolation rules thanks to ‘get out of jail free card’ pilot scheme 

Thousands of ministers and government officials are escaping self-isolation thanks to a pilot scheme that amounts to a ‘get out of jail free card’, it was revealed.

The Cabinet Office, Border Force and Transport for London are among the bodies signed up to a trial that replaces quarantine with daily testing – meaning they can continue working after being ‘pinged’ for close contact with a positive case.

Michael Gove used the arrangements to avoid self-isolating when he returned from watching the Champions’ League final in Porto in May.

Several Downing Street staff have benefited from the pilot, instead being able to take daily lateral flow tests to check whether they have the virus. They can carry on duties as normal unless they develop symptoms, but must still isolate when not at work.

According to the Telegraph, some politicians have likened the scheme – which is apparently in place in businesses in utilities, manufacturing and retail – to the famous Monopoly card.

Nadhim Zahawi highlighted at the weekend that daily testing could replace self-isolation more widely in future. However, the news will raise questions about whether ministers and civil servants are getting preferential treatment when hundreds of thousands of healthy members of the public are being forced into house arrest. 

Mr Jenrick called on Britons to keep using the app today but hinted ministers were still mulling over how to update it. 

Government sources last week told the Mail the app’s ‘sensitivity’ will be reduced to cut the numbers being asked to isolate unnecessarily.

Mr Jenrick told LBC: ‘It is important that we have the app, that we take it seriously, that when we do get those messages we act accordingly.

‘But we are going to give further thought to how we can ensure it is a proportionate response.’ 

He added: ‘We have indicated that for those who have been double-vaccinated there are opportunities to take a more proportionate approach.

‘We are concerned about absences as a result of being pinged, for example. 

‘That is one of the reasons why we do need to move to a more proportionate approach.’  

Business leaders have warned the app could lead to a summer of chaos after Monday, when most remaining Covid curbs are due to be lifted. 

Lidl has party blamed empty shelves at some of its stores on so many truck drivers having to isolate.

Nissan said it has had to adjust production at its plant because of the amount of staff being told to isolate.

The company said: ‘Production in certain areas of the plant has been adjusted as we manage a number of staff being required to self-isolate following close contact with Covid.

‘The well-being of our team is our number one priority and we remain confident in the rigorous safety controls we have on site.’

But unions are warning many factories are approaching collapse with so many staff members forced to stay home by self-isolation warnings. 

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: ‘No one is advocating for Covid controls to go out the window and Unite’s number one priority remain the health and safety of our members.

‘But the reports Unite is receiving from our members and their employers are extremely worrying.

‘It is not an exaggeration to say factories are on the verge of shutting and that at some sites hundreds of staff are off work.’ 

Warnings of cancelled operations as NHS finds it ‘increasingly difficult’ to manage without absent staff – as 900,000 self-isolation alerts are issued in a single week causing chaos for medics, firms and families across Britain

Factories are on the verge of shutting and hospitals are scrapping operations because so many workers are having to self isolate.

Nearly 900,000 alerts telling people to quarantine were issued in the first week of this month following contact with a coronavirus victim.

The ‘pingdemic’ is causing chaos for families and firms, prompting business leaders to demand changes on the NHS Covid-19 app to avoid a ‘self-inflicted economic wound’.

NHS chiefs warned the system was making it ‘increasingly difficult’ to deliver routine care.

There was further anger at heavy-handed enforcement of test and trace rules after police in a riot van called on a girl of 12 to ensure she was self-isolating after a positive swab.

Factories are on the verge of shutting and hospitals are scrapping operations because so many workers are having to self isolate. Pictured: 


The chief executive of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Muller-Otvos (left), said the car maker was on the ‘edge of a critical situation’ while Chris Hopson (right), chief executive of NHS Providers, added that trust leaders ‘continued to share serious concerns about rising levels of staff isolation’

Kathryn Crook said officers called twice at her home in Manchester leaving her daughter Charlotte petrified. She added: ‘She has been in complete meltdown, thinking she was going to get arrested at any moment.’

Another 48,553 Covid cases were reported yesterday, the highest total since January, with 63 more deaths. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned daily Covid infections were likely to top 100,000 after restrictions are lifted on Monday. That could force around half a million a day to self-isolate.

The chief executive of Rolls-Royce said the car maker was on the ‘edge of a critical situation’ and a complete shutdown could not be ruled out. ‘Cases have gone through the roof and it is causing havoc,’ Torsten Muller-Otvos told the Daily Telegraph.

The UK’s largest car factory, the Nissan plant in Sunderland, has been cancelling shifts and ‘hundreds’ of staff are self-isolating. A major engine supplier said it was so far behind on orders it was considering moving work permanently to China.

The National Care Association said care homes had ‘real staffing issues’ because of the app, while in Liverpool so many bin men are self-isolating that the council has told households their rubbish will not be collected until August. 

Bin rounds were also missed this week in Sutton Coldfield because of outbreaks of Covid.

Some hospital trusts have had up to 500 staff isolating at a time, forcing them to close beds and cancel operations.

In retail and hospitality a third of staff are off self-isolating in the worst hit areas, forcing thousands of venues to shut.

In other developments:

  • Official figures revealed that as few as 30 per cent of adults have been double-jabbed in inner cities; 
  •  Tesco and John Lewis will join the police and NHS in retaining Covid safeguards, including face masks, after most official restrictions end on Monday; 
  • Boris Johnson hinted guidance on wearing masks could run into next year;
  • Ministers were urged to get a grip on the Covid travel test fiasco that has led to lengthy delays and appalling service.

Individuals can be pinged by the NHS Covid app and told to self-isolate for ten days after coming into contact with an infected person. Alternatively they can be ordered to self-isolate in a phone call from NHS Test and Trace.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned daily Covid infections were likely to top 100,000 after restrictions are lifted on Monday

Officers visited the home of Kathryn Crook in Middleton, Greater Manchester, to check that Charlotte (above together), 12, was adhering to Covid guidance after catching the virus

A record 530,126 were pinged by the NHS app last week in England and Wales – a weekly increase of 46 per cent, figures released yesterday showed.

Another 336,056 were reached by NHS contact tracers, an increase of a third on the previous week. A total of 866,182 self-isolation alerts were sent out.

NHS Covid app (pictured) will not be made less sensitive for weeks, reports say

Quarantine rules will be changed from August 16 to exempt those who are double-vaccinated, but the British Chambers of Commerce has demanded this is brought forward to Monday.

Plans to make the NHS Covid app less sensitive, meaning fewer people would be pinged, have been delayed as concerns mount over rising infection rates.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The self-isolation policy is causing chaos in every area of British life resulting in a lockdown in everything but name. Ministers must get a grip and make urgent changes or a tsunami of pings will literally shut this country and its economy down.’

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, which represents the manufacturing sector, said: ‘The need to isolate, even without symptoms, is now a serious issue and impacting on production.

‘It has escalated significantly over the last week. There is now an urgent priority for the Government to bring forward the August date.’

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

A record number of positive tests were also linked to the app last week, data showed. There were 86,000 cases logged with the app, up 40 per cent from 61,000 the previous week

And the number of alerts sent out in relation to venues also more than doubled in seven days

Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women were infected over the last two weeks, with the gender gap having widened since the tournament kicked off

Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, said: ‘Trust leaders continue to share serious concerns about rising levels of staff isolation, which are now significantly impacting on their ability to deliver care.’

Thousands of doctors and nurses, almost all of whom have been double-jabbed, are off work after being pinged.

Infection rates are highest in the North East of England, forcing some trusts to allow workers to avoid self-isolation by taking rapid lateral flow tests.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland supermarkets, said: ‘Just as we thought the worst was over, Covid threatens to take its biggest toll yet on the economy, thanks to the broken test and trace system.’

A Government source acknowledged the crisis was proving ‘very difficult’ for business but said self-isolation was vital in preventing cases spiralling even further out of control.

Hundreds of workers told to self-isolate at Sunderland car factory 

A car factory in Sunderland has been thrown into chaos by the NHS app, with hundreds told to isolate.

Reports suggest up to 900 workers are being forced to stay at home after receiving ‘pings’.

Nissan said it has ‘adjusted’ production at the Wearside site, which employs 7,000 people.

But unions are warning many factories are approaching collapse with so many staff members forced to stay home by self-isolation warnings.

Nissan said it had ‘a number of staff being required to self-isolate following close contact with Covid’.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: ‘No one is advocating for Covid controls to go out the window and Unite’s number one priority remain the health and safety of our members.

‘But the reports Unite is receiving from our members and their employers are extremely worrying.

‘It is not an exaggeration to say factories are on the verge of shutting and that at some sites hundreds of staff are off work.’ 

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