We live in a corrupted system. The way to tackle corruption is to first acknowledge it exists. Only then is it possible to come up with ways of dealing with it, but don't make the mistake of believing the system can or will uncorrupt itself.

UK Government – Ways to Increase Adherence to Social Distancing – March 2020

Back in March 2020 the following document (mirror) on the Government website under the “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research and Analysis” section was published. Prepared by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (or SAGE, as they do love their contrived acronyms) and titled “Options for increasing adherence to social distancing measures”, it sets out a list of options as the title suggests, evaluations of those options with another cutesy acronym titled grid, APEASE (Acceptability, Practicability, Effectiveness, Spill-over effects and Equity), recommendations and some references.

They list “nine broad ways of achieving behaviour change”, and they are:

  1. Education
  2. Persuasion
  3. Incentivisation
  4. Coercion
  5. Enablement
  6. Training
  7. Restriction
  8. Environmental restructuring
  9. Modelling

The very nature of the document seeking to change behaviour is cause for concern, but noteworthy are the sections on Persuasion, Incentivisation and Coercion.

Under the banner of Persuasion we have the following excerpts:

Perceived threat: A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened; it could be that they are reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group (8), although levels of concern may be rising (9). Having a good understanding of the risk has been found to be positively associated with adoption of COVID-19 social distancing measures in Hong Kong (10). The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat.

Messaging needs to emphasise and explain the duty to protect others.

For the Incentivisation section it discusses “Social Approval” saying:

Social approval can be a powerful source of reward. Not only can this be provided directly by highlighting examples of good practice and providing strong social encouragement and approval in communications; members of the community can be encouraged to provide it to each other.

Then we have Coercion, where there is the suggestion that consideration should be given to enacting legislation to “compel” the desired behaviour. Also listed is the method of “Social Disapproval” with the following ideas:

Social disapproval from one’s community can play an important role in preventing anti-social behaviour or discouraging failure to enact pro-social behaviour.

Of course there is some token mention of avoiding victimisation, but as we had Britain’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick saying on LBC…

“My hope is that the vast majority of people will comply, and that people who are not complying will be shamed into complying or shamed to leave the store by the store keepers or by other members of the public”


…without mentioning exemptions or legitimate reasons not to wear one (not that we should need an “excuse”) we are seeing public shaming, bullying and abuse of vulnerable people, sanctioned and advocated by the top Police in the country, head of the organisation who should be protecting the public who pay their salaries from those very things.