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Hundreds of fines for breaching coronavirus restriction rules in West Midlands

More than 500 people have been fined for breaching lockdown restrictions as police clampdown on Covid rule breakers.

Police have been stepping up fines for breaking restrictions
Police have been stepping up fines for breaking restrictions

New figures show that West Midlands Police have issued 4,001 directions to leave since the start of lockdown in March, along with 527 fines to those who refused to comply. A total of 20 arrests have been made.

In recent weeks the force has taken a tougher stance on those who flout coronavirus rules, with Chief Constable Dave Thompson warning his officers were adopting a "zero tolerance approach" to larger scale breaches.

The majority of the fines are believed to be for higher level breaches. They include the organiser of an illegal rave at Phoenix Business Park in Walsall last month, who was fined £10,000.

West Midlands Police also revealed it had received more than 7,000 online reports of restrictions being breached since early April.

Speaking at the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner's (PCC) strategic board meeting, Mr Thompson said all lockdown rules should be "unambiguous in the public's mind" by now.

He said officers had moved away from "educating" people who breach rules – such as refusing to wear facemasks on public transport – and onto "more enforcement", while a "zero tolerance approach" was in place for large venues hosting parties and breaching licensing hours.

"We are remaining vigilant on large gatherings," Mr Thompson said. "Be under no illusions, the bias is straight to enforcement."

PCC David Jamieson said: "The public should understand the rules at this stage and we need to do all we can do stop the spread of this virus."

The Chief Constable said in recent weeks officers had broken up a number of illegal raves with links to organised crime and drug dealing.

He said while most crime had fallen during lockdown, the "turbulent environment" had disrupted the drugs trade leading to increases in stabbings and firearms offences.

"Some of the unlicensed music events we have seen are clearly driven by the desire to create a drugs market among young people," Mr Thompson said.

Meanwhile, Mr Jamieson said his board was "closely examining" the proportionality of fines handed out for breaching restrictions, after a report said Asian and black people were twice as likely to be fined as white people.

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