A detailed breakdown of the number of fixed penalty notices given by police, including the age and ethnicity of those who had been fined, has been published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
Northumbria Police gave out by far the highest number of fines, with 3,034 issued between March 27 and December 20. Greater Manchester Police came second with 2,183.
Here is the full list of the 20 police forces who gave out the most fines:
- Northumbria Police, 3,034
- Greater Manchester Police, 2,183
- Dyfed-Powys Police, 1,784
- Metropolitan Police, 1,761
- Lancashire Police, 1,506
- North Yorkshire Police, 1,484
- Merseyside Police, 1,411
- Devon and Cornwall Police, 1,233
- West Yorkshire Police, 1,061
- Dorset Police, 1,010
- West Midlands Police, 970
- Thames Valley Police, 965
- Cumbria Police, 941
- Nottinghamshire Police, 906
- Sussex Police, 892
- South Wales Police, 856
- Northamptonshire Police, 848
- West Mercia Police, 748
- South Yorkshire Police, 673
- North Wales Police, 625
In total, 32,329 fixed penalty notices were issued across England and Wales under the coronavirus regulations between March 27 and December 21, with 28,744 issued in England and 3,585 in Wales. On Wednesday home secretary Priti Patel revealed that figure had now risen to 45,000, meaning there has been a sharp increase since the rules were tightened over Christmas.
The NPCC figures state that 80% of all notices issued in England and Wales last year were given to those aged between 18 and 39.
The data also reveals that while white people make up 80% of people being fined – in line with the 80% white population as identified in the 2011 census – Black and Asian people make up a disproportionate number of the fines handed out.
In 2011, 6.8% of the population was Asian, yet 11% of the fines went to Asian people.
A similar effect was seen amongst Black communities, who in 2011 made up 3.4% of the population but were handed 5% of the fixed penalty notices.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, home secretary Priti Patel backed a tougher police approach to lockdown rules, saying a minority of the public were “putting the health of the nation at risk” as the UK struggles with the second wave of the virus.
But there are fears that a more aggressive crackdown on individuals – as opposed to changing policy on payments for those forced to self-isolate or some workplaces remaining open – could lead to discrimination.
A group of organisations and charities raised concerns with Martin Hewitt, chairman of the NPCC on Wednesday, warning that disabled people could “bear the brunt” of a police crackdown. It came amid reports that officers have been “wrongly claiming” people with disabilities must carry paperwork to prove their exemption to the rule.
Big Brother Watch, Disability Rights UK, Mencap, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and the Survivors Trust have urged police chiefs to clarify the legal exemptions on face covering requirements because they fear disabled people and sexual abuse victims may be disproportionately affected by the latest crackdown on coronavirus laws in a bid to curb infection rates.
A letter to Hewitt, signed by the bosses of each organisation, said there was “widespread confusion” among police officers and called for assurances that restrictions are being enforced lawfully and fairly without discrimination.
Correction: The headline of this story was updated on January 15 to more accurately reflect what the data reveals about Covid fines.