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Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the police should enforce lockdown “without fear or favour” as new data shows that ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately fined.
During the coronavirus daily briefing on Wednesday, HuffPost UK put to Matt Hancock that Dominic Cummings, senior adviser to prime minister Boris Johnson, was statistically more likely to have been stopped by police while travelling away from his home during lockdown if he was black.
It followed research highlighting that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in England are 54% more likely to be fined under coronavirus rules than white people.
Hancock replied: “This is an incredibly important issue and of course it’s vital that the rules, where there is mandation, are policed without fear or favour and fairly and equally according to the evidence.”
On Tuesday, analysis by Liberty Investigates and the Guardian revealed that BAME people received as many as 2,218 of the 13,445 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) under distancing regulations recorded from March 27 to May 11, while white people were given about 7,865.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has published data fortnightly showing the racial breakdown of the fines which indicates that Black and Asian individuals were disproportionately fined, as exclusively reported by HuffPost UK on May 15.
BAME people account for 15.5% of the population in England, according to 2016 population figures, yet received at least 22% of the coronavirus lockdown fines, according to NPCC data, which was most recently updated on 15 May.
This comes after Durham Police confirmed that it is examining further information and complaints in connection to Cummings flouting lockdown rules.
The force said on Monday that they received further information and complaints from the public and they are reviewing and examining the new information.
Cummings travelled to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family – apparently because he feared he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son – while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.