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Covid: Almost 2,000 fines given out in first 12 days of England lockdown

Lizzie Dearden
·3-min read
<p>Police will enforce restrictions under the three tiers after the end of lockdown</p> (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Police will enforce restrictions under the three tiers after the end of lockdown

(Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Police gave out almost 2,000 fines in the first 12 days of England’s national coronavirus lockdown, new figures show.

Between 5 and 12 November, 1,977 penalties were issued under new laws stating that people cannot leave home “without reasonable excuse”.

The law contains more exceptions than during the UK’s first national lockdown in March, but police vowed to enforce the restrictions after being given dedicated government funding for Covid patrols.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said the vast majority of people had followed the law and that officers would continue explaining changes before giving out fines.

“The national lockdown periods in England and Wales have seen increased enforcement activity by forces, targeted towards those who commit the most serious breaches, risking public health,” he added.

“We cannot waste time endlessly encouraging those still intent on breaking the rules after nine months of this pandemic, and they should expect to see officers move more quickly towards issuing fixed penalty notices (FPNs) where it is appropriate.”

Provisional figures released on Monday show that in total, almost 25,000 fines have been issued in England and Wales under all coronavirus laws introduced since 27 March, with 80 per cent handed to under-40s.

Watch: COVID-19 cases fell by a third in England during second lockdown, study suggests

At least 133 £10,000 fines have been issued for holding illegal large gatherings, including protests, parties and music events.

Police briefly suspended the unprecedented on-the-spot tickets earlier this month, because of differences between the amount paid immediately and the lower fines paid by people who are means-tested by a court after initially refusing to comply with a fine.

Around 2,100 fines were issued under the three-tier system, which was introduced in October and will be returned to when the England-wide lockdown lifts on Wednesday.

Only 180 fines were issued for breaking Wales’ national lockdown, which ended on 9 November.

A further 641 penalties have been issued over the wearing of face coverings, and 181 fines given to businesses for breaches including refusing to close or allowing large gatherings.

<p>A further 641 penalties have been issued over the wearing of face coverings</p>Kirsty O’Connor/PA

A further 641 penalties have been issued over the wearing of face coverings

Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Police have investigated thousands of potential breaches of quarantine requirements but only fined 223 people for failing to self-isolate.

A report showed that more than 400 people were let off after being “successfully encouraged to self-isolate” and in almost 1,500 others, police could not enforce the law because people had given the wrong address or were not at home.

Provisional statistics show that overall crime in October was down 9 per cent on the previous year, a change police put down to increasing Covid restrictions.

The fall was not as steep as in the first national lockdown, but violent crime, robbery, shoplifting, burglary and vehicle crime have fallen significantly.

Mr Hewitt appealed for people to familiarise themselves with the rules in place for their area, and changes over the Christmas period.

“Crime is lower than at the same point last year, however the demand on the police service remains significant,” he added.

“Particularly during the month of December, officers and police staff will be working hard to tackle crime, keep communities safe, and play our part in reducing the spread of coronavirus.”

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work

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