Nearly 70,000 Covid-19 fines handed out in England and Wales

25 February 2021, 12:53 | Updated: 25 February 2021, 13:44

Almost 70,000 people have been given Covid fines since the start of the pandemic (file picture)
Almost 70,000 people have been given Covid fines since the start of the pandemic (file picture). Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Almost 70,000 fines have been handed out by police for breaches of Covid-19 laws in England and Wales since they came into force, with over 10,000 of these given in London alone.

Data published by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) on Thursday shows a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by forces, including 63,201 in England and 5,751 in Wales, between March 27 last year and February 14.

Around 6,000 were issued in a single week, the figures have also shown.

The report said steep rises in the number of tickets handed out following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions before Christmas and the latest national lockdown in England on January 4 reflected a move towards quicker enforcement by police.

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A total of 4,752 fines were handed out in the seven days to February 11, down from 6,218 the previous week, but higher than the first lockdown's peak of 3,294 during the week of the Easter bank holiday in April.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: "We are still in a really dangerous stage of a pandemic which has killed more than 120,000 people.

"Eleven months on and back into a national lockdown, the rules are really clear and so it is frustrating that we still have a small number of completely defiant and irresponsible people who have no regard for the safety of themselves or others."

The figures show 272 £10,000 fines have been handed to organisers of mass gatherings of more than 30 people, including illegal raves, parties and protests, in England, with three in Wales, while 485 £800 tickets have been issued to people attending gatherings of more than 15 people.

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For breaches of face coverings regulations, a total of 2,344 fines were issued between June 15 and February 14 in England, including 456 on public transport and 1,888 in relevant places such as shops.

Mr Hewitt added: "We all know we must wear a face covering in a shop or on a bus and we all know we can't meet up in groups.

The country has been under strict laws for almost a year to keep the spread of Covid down as much as possible
The country has been under strict laws for almost a year to keep the spread of Covid down as much as possible. Picture: PA

"We're taking a common sense approach, applying discretion and judgement when engaging with the public.

"But common sense would dictate that someone having a party is well aware what they are doing is wrong and has made an informed decision to do it anyway.

"Our extra dedicated patrols across the country will continue to support those of us making significant sacrifices in following the rules by taking enforcement action against those who are not."

The data also shows 582 FPNs have been handed to businesses for breaches of regulations that came into force in England last September, including failures to enforce face-covering regulations, unlawfully staying open, hosting large gatherings or not sticking to table service rules.

Some 402 fines have been issued by forces in England and three in Wales to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the Government quarantine list up to February 14.

The data does not include regulations around hotel quarantine for those entering the country from red countries, which came into force on February 15.