Every dictator down the ages has offered security in return for people's liberties.

These were the words of the former Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, John Alderson in an interview I did with him a few years ago.

His wise words have come back many times down the years, never more so than in the present pandemic.

The move of the Government to impose a lockdown across the country for three months was unprecedented.

The messaging was simple - stay at home and protect the NHS. On the whole people were very compliant, most following the guidance to the letter. Some (or should that be one) in government took a different line but that is for another day.

The lockdown began to lift in June as the country gradually returned to something like normality.

People were scared by Covid-19 - and rightly so. The constant quoting of the daily death total in the media helped heighten that fear. It made people stay at home.

Fear though is a dangerous thing. As former US President Franklin D Roosevelt said: "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

The lockdown is a blunt instrument made necessary by the danger that the NHS would be overrun.

A number of scientists have said that locking down earlier would have saved lives. Also, that the halt on community testing on March 12 limited the ability to deal with the pandemic.

Testing and tracing are clearly key to controlling the spread of Covid-19.

What has been strange is the clamour from some, often born out of fear, to restrict people's actions. The call to reimpose lockdown, the call for severe penalties against those getting too close together, making people wear masks wherever they go. The desire to just stop others doing things. These are all severe infringements on individual liberties and need to be carefully weighed in terms of the common good.

The clamour often originates from people's own insecurities and anxieties at being locked down for months on end.

The Government has tried to weigh up these questions, though sometimes appearing to face one way - as with wearing masks - only to then do a U-turn on the original decision.

What is clear is that the questions of liberties and securities must be weighed at every turn.

Measures like lockdowns are only justified in situations like a major health emergency. They are not justified as a means of keeping public order.

When things finally return to something like normal, the human rights of all citizens should be fully restored and enhanced, not reduced permanently at the behest of those who see the possibility of using a crisis to justify the sacrifice of rights on the altar of security.