Fines more likely for lockdown rule-breakers, warns police boss

Lockdown rule-breakers are increasingly likely to be fined as Covid laws are enforced "much quicker", police chiefs have warned.

Police are moving more quickly to fine people who breach lockdown rules
Police are moving more quickly to fine people who breach lockdown rules

West Midlands Police (WMP) and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said officers would be swifter to move to enforcement as "people should understand the rules of the lockdown by now".

It came as new figures from the National Police Chiefs Council showed WMP had given out 970 fixed penalties to people breaching restrictions since the first lockdown started last March.

And the number is likely to rise sharply in the coming weeks, after Home Secretary Priti Patel warned that officers “will not hesitate” to take action to safeguard the national recovery effort.

Mr Jamieson said WMP would continue to follow the '4E' approach of engaging with the public, educating and explaining before moving to enforcement action.

But he added: "We will be moving much quicker to use enforcement powers as there is no doubt that people should understand the rules of the lockdown by now and the serious risk Covid-19 continues to present.

"People want to have their lives back and to see normality resume. However, we cannot afford to give the virus opportunities to spread at such a critical time."

Of the fines handed out so far by WMP, 398 were issued for breaches of coronavirus laws brought in during the first few months of the pandemic, 22 were linked to the tiered alert system introduced in October, and 310 to the national lockdown which began in November.

There were 42 fines for failing to wear a face covering when required, and 10 for breaching international travel rules.

There were also 30 for breaking business regulations and 11 for gatherings held of more than 30 people.

Target

Police forces across England and Wales have issued 32,329 FPNs since March, with the peak occurring during the Easter bank holiday in April, with 3,288 handed out that week.

The figures do not cover the Christmas and New Year period.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said enforcement should not always equal police involvement or a fine being handed out.

But he added: “It is right for officers to be inquisitive about why individuals may be away from home.

“Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice, and we’ll target our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.”

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, said: "We are urging the small minority of people who aren't taking this seriously to do so now. If they don't they are much more likely to get fined by the police."

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