Staffordshire Police issue second lowest level of lockdown breach fines in the country
Staffordshire Police has handed out one of the lowest levels of fines in the country to people caught flouting lockdown rules during the coronavirus pandemic, it has been revealed.
Just 43 fines were issued by the force for Covid-19 breaches between March 27 and July 6, according to the latest figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
The only force with a lower number was MoD Police, which handed out 35 fines, while North Yorkshire Police issued 1,141 during the same period. Metropolitan Police and the Devon and Cornwall force also issued more than 1,000 fines.
Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis paid tribute to the work of the area’s police and fire services during the pandemic at a meeting on Monday.
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He said: “It has been an interesting one. Staffordshire was the lowest number of fines anywhere in the country of any territorial force.
“The force have very heavily relied on educating people, cajoling people, advising people. The number of fines and formal action taken in Staffordshire were in the low hundreds, whereas there were forces in the north of England who fined thousands of people.
“The cajoling, the advising and the encouragement to act appropriately during this difficult time has been very successful and I pay tribute to Staffordshire Police for the leadership it has shown on that.
“I will also say the fire service have been pivotal in assisting people who are the most vulnerable with food and parcels and also sorting out a lot of the PPE. Those two services have very quietly played an enormous part in supporting the NHS and supporting particularly vulnerable people.”
A report to Monday’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel meeting said: “Staffordshire Police has adopted an approach to compliance that has sought to obtain the cooperation of local communities to self-regulate and nurture the relationship between the police and the public recognising the importance of striking the right balance, tone and style.
"This is one of proportionality and legitimacy actions, with an emphasis on the first three E’s of the national ‘4-E’ approach – Engage – Explain and Encourage, with Enforcement as final resort.
“The Chief Constable has continued to emphasise and reinforce this position through weekly staff teleconference engagement sessions and regular blogs and messaging, more recently against the complex background of Black Lives Matter protests; recognising the need to balance the conflict between appropriate policing of lawful protests and the Covid restrictions with the consequential impact on policing legitimacy and ultimately community tension/cohesion.”
Mr Ellis added that the police staff absence rate – which peaked at 20 per cent on March 31 – was less than many areas and was short-lived. The report to Monday’s panel meeting said that during the peak 493 absences were Covid-related.
The report added: “As a consequence a small number of force teams including custody, forensic services, MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) and occupational health reached the amber-category status; non-critical activity was suspended (training etc) and resources were deployed from non-critical areas to support/meet key on-going demands and calls for policing services.
“However by 15th April the total sickness-abstraction rate had reduced by half to 10 per cent and has continued to fall both due to a fall in the infection rate, but also due to active management by force HR and occupational health, understanding and responding to individual circumstances to enable staff to ‘return to work’, supported by a systematic approach to staff testing, initially through arrangements with Health colleagues, as soon as it became available.”
Mr Ellis said: “Everyone has been working very hard in policing and fire and if you compare and contrast across the country Staffordshire comes out extremely well. My thanks go to those services and congratulations on the work they have done.”
Councillor Stephen Sweeney, who chaired the meeting, said: “I think the engage, explain and encourage philosophy of the police – certainly in my area of Newcastle – has been very well done. They’ve not been heavy-handed, they’ve not jumped in.
“And with the fire service part with the delivery of PPE I think it has worked together very well.”
Fellow panel member Councillor Ann Edgeller said: “I think we should be praising the police and fire service for the work they have done because I think they have worked extremely well.”
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