Nearly 100,000 fines handed out for Covid regulation breaches since last March

Police officers patrol through a children’s play park
Police officers patrol through a children’s play park (PA Wire)
13:30pm, Fri 26 Mar 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Almost 100,000 fines have been handed out for breaches of coronavirus regulations since they first came into force last year, new figures show.

Provisional data published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Friday shows a total of 94,368 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by police forces, including 85,975 in England and 8,393 in Wales, between March 27 last year and March 14 2021.

Some 25,416 of those, or more than a quarter, were issued in the latest four-week period – down from more than 26,000 the previous month.

The figures show a total of 284 £10,000 fines have been handed to organisers of mass gatherings of more than 30 people, including illegal raves, parties and protests, in England, with three in Wales.

And 1,647 £800 tickets have been issued to people attending gatherings of more than 15 people.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “While it is encouraging to see that the number of fines processed in the last month has decreased, a small number of people continue to defy the rules, putting themselves and others at risk of the virus.

“It is particularly frustrating to see the groups of selfish and irresponsible people organising and attending illegal parties and unlicensed music events – they clearly have no regard for the rules and we move quickly to enforcement in these cases.

“Looking ahead as restrictions start to ease, we will be focusing our efforts on these types of large indoor gatherings.

“Any person who organises or attends these events clearly doesn’t need the regulations explaining to them and we will not hesitate to issue fines where necessary.”

The NPCC said the Metropolitan Police disrupted an illegal rave at a disused bank in Southall, west London, in the early hours of March 7, while officers in Leicestershire handed out 35 fines after shutting down three parties between 12.15am and 2.50am on February 27.

Merseyside Police seized a diary of “party flat” bookings and gave out 14 tickets after breaking up a house party in Liverpool, where a machete was thrown at police from an upstairs window.

Our officers will be more visible at key dates in the road map, to engage with the public and keep explaining the restrictions which remain in place at the time

The NPCC report said steep rises in the number of tickets handed out following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions before Christmas and the latest national lockdown in England on January 6 reflected a move towards quicker enforcement by police.

But there has been a decline in the number of fines handed out since February 4, with 3,481 in the seven days to March 11, down from 4,612 the previous week, but still higher than the first lockdown’s peak of 3,294 during the week of the Easter bank holiday in April last year.

For breaches of face covering regulations, a total of 3,140 fines were issued in England, including 547 on public transport between June 15 2020 and March 14 and 2,593 in relevant places such as shops from July 24 last year.

The data also shows 687 FPNs had been handed to businesses for breaches of regulations that came into force in England last September, including failures to enforce face covering regulations, unlawfully staying open, hosting large gatherings or not sticking to table service rules.

Some 508 fines had been issued by forces in England and three in Wales to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the Government quarantine list up to March 14.

Mr Hewitt said police expect crime to return to pre-lockdown levels as restrictions are eased.

“Our officers will be more visible at key dates in the road map, to engage with the public and keep explaining the restrictions which remain in place at the time, and we hope the public will continue to support us in our efforts to prevent the further spread of the virus,” he added.

Sign up to our newsletter