Data released today shows that a total of 15,552 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have been recorded by forces in England up to 25 May for breaches of government public health regulations. In Wales, 1,395 FPNs have been issued in the same timeframe.
Cumbria Police have issued 436 penalty notices, and are sitting eighth in a national league table.
Government public health regulations introduced on 27 March 2020 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, enable officers to issue individuals with fines if they failed to comply after officers have engaged with them, explained the risks to public health and encouraged voluntary compliance.
From Wednesday 13 May, the minimum fine in England increased from £60 to £100, reducing if paid within 14 days. The upper limit for fines also increased from £960 to £3,200.
National Police Chiefs' Council Chair Martin Hewitt said:
“As restrictions are carefully eased, the public have been able to go about their business in greater numbers, and with greater flexibility.
“The collective public effort over the past two months has meant police officers have only rarely had to step in to enforce regulations and even less so in the past few weeks. I am confident the vast majority will continue to act responsibly. We will be issuing guidance to officers on how to approach new changes to the regulations in the coming days.
“The overarching aim of the police response has always been to keep people as safe as possible, and encourage them to follow the regulations, thereby reducing the transmission of the virus. We will continue to play our part and are grateful for all of the positive engagement we have had with the public to date.”
Police forces have worked closely with the NPCC in order to be as transparent as possible in how they have used these new powers. Statistical collection for matters relating to Covid-19 are still developing and are not subject to the same stringent analysis and quality assurance that is possible with an established official statistics collection.
The majority of fines continue to be issued to males in the 18-24 age group. Fines have been more likely to be given at weekends, taking in to account the recent bank holiday weekends, and during periods of warmer weather.
In England, since restrictions were eased, fines have been issued for reasons such as driving with non-household members, house parties, large gatherings of people from different households, and camping, among other things.
Martin Hewitt said:
“There is still a responsibility on us all to abide by the regulations set in each part of the UK, and to follow public health guidance as best we can when out and about. Throughout this pandemic, officers have only enforced as a last resort and have taken a common sense approach, applying their discretion and judgement when engaging with the public.”