SAGE member tells LBC new £800 Covid fines will have 'very little impact'

22 January 2021, 08:18 | Updated: 22 January 2021, 16:51

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A SAGE member has told LBC new £800 fines for Covid rule breakers are more about grabbing headlines than actual enforcement.

After the Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a raft of new measures to deal with coronavirus rule breaches LBC spoke to an expert.

Fines of £800 will be slapped on people caught at house parties as part of tougher measures to crack down on illegal gatherings during the pandemic.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari was Clifford Stott Professor of Social Psychology at Keele University, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its behavioural advisory committee.

Read more: New £800 fines for those attending house parties from next week, Priti Patel announces

When Nick asked the professor what impact the new fines would have his response was "very little."

He added they were "very focused on grabbing headlines and the devil is in the detail."

Questioning the powers of police to actually enter homes to issue the new fines Professor Stott said he did not think officers "actually have that legal power."

"There's going to be lots of complications in terms of enforcement and I think it's about sending a message than they are about a practical tool for dealing with the pandemic."

The penalty, coming into force next week, will apply for groups of over 15 people and will double after each offence up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offenders, the Home Secretary said.

The fines currently stand at £200. The £10,000 penalties for unlawful groups of more than 30 people will still only apply to the organiser.

Read more: UK Covid death toll rises by 1,290 with almost 38,000 new cases

Read more: 'Too early to say' when lockdown will be lifted, Boris Johnson says

Announcing the decision at Thursday's Downing Street press conference, Priti Patel said: "The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health.

"Not only to those in attendance but to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.

"As this latest measure demonstrates, we will not stand by while a small number of individuals put others at risk."