Police blame ‘lockdown fatigue’ as forces reveal nearly 40 per cent of all Covid fines were handed out in just four weeks in January and February
- Police data shows 68,952 fines issued between March 2020 and February 14
- Some 26,277 (38 per cent) of those issued were in the latest four-week period
- Figures also show 272 £10,000 fines handed to organisers of mass gatherings
- NPCC chairman blamed lockdown ‘fatigue’ for the recent rise in rulebreakers
Police have blamed ‘lockdown fatigue’ after figures revealed that nearly 40 per cent of all Covid-19 fines were handed out in just four weeks in January and February.
Data published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) 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.
Some 26,277 (38 per cent) of the fines were issued in the latest four-week period between January 17 and February 14.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said there is ‘no question’ of lockdown ‘fatigue’ in the country, adding police stepped up enforcement action last November and deployed extra officers in areas that had seen the most serious breaches.
Nearly 40 per cent of all fines issued for breaches of Covid rules were handed out in just four weeks (pictured: police officers confronting a man breaching rules at a barbershop in Kent)
Some 26,277 fines were issued between January 17 and February 14 (pictured: Kent Police at an unofficial match earlier this month which saw most of the team run away)
He said there had always been a ‘hard core’ of people who had chosen not to follow the rules, adding: ‘But I think it probably is fair to say that, and I’ve used the phrase before, there is no question there is a fatigue in the country, among the population.
‘We’ve been living with this for 11 months, it’s really hard, it’s very restrictive on people’s lives.
‘The numbers say there have been more people who have breached the rules and in the circumstances (they) have not taken the encouragement we’ve given them, we’ve given them a ticket, bearing in mind a lot of those tickets would’ve gone out in mass gathering-type events.’
Mr Hewitt said officers were monitoring social media to find out when events may be taking place, describing house parties as ‘particularly irritating’.
And he said there had been more officers deployed in departure and arrival areas at ports and airports to ensure travellers were only making essential journeys.
The NPCC 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 6 reflected a move towards quicker enforcement by police.
Police pictured breaking up an illegal party in Knightsbridge on January 17. NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt blamed lockdown ‘fatigue’ for the recent rise in rulebreakers
Data published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) shows a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by forces between March 27 last year and February 14
A graph showing the number of fines issued for failing to wear a face covering when required between July last year and February this year, with the number of penalties rising in December
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.
The figures show 272 £10,000 fines had 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 had been issued to people attending gatherings of more than 15 people.
What are the rules around gatherings?
Under current Covid laws, you must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
People attending illegal house parties face £800 fines as police tighten their clampdown on rule-breaking.
The fines will double for each repeat offence, up to a maximum of £6,400. Hosts of illegal parties are already liable for a £10,000 fine.
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 said: ‘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.
‘We’re taking a common sense approach, applying discretion and judgment 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 had 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 had 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 from red countries, which came into force on February 15.
It follows dozens of partygoers drawing the curtains and turning off the music when police came to break up an illegal gathering on February 17.
Up to 30 people attended the rave in Islington, north-east London, before officers were called at around 11pm, Scotland Yard said.
Police also stumbled upon a workshop turned into an illegal bar that was mockingly named ‘The Covid Arms’ on February 13.
Police in Dudley Port, West Midlands, stumbled upon a workshop turned into an illegal bar that was mockingly named ‘The Covid Arms’ on February 13
Footage captured officers looking around a garage workshop in Dudley Port, West Midlands, before discovering a hidden bar complete with a sign on the wall.
West Midlands Police said officers used their discretion to allow the dozen people in there to leave, but the owner was hit with a £1,000 fine.
The force also raided a packed night club with 150 attendees illegally set up near Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.
Dozens of partygoers fled across rooftops after officers forced their way into the site, which boasted a VIP area, DJ, and was spread across two floors.
On the same day, an illegal rave was busted in Merseyside wood with drugs, music speakers and a weapon all seized.
Around 20 brazen coronavirus rule breakers turned up to the secluded part with organisers using plastic sheeting for a makeshift venue and speakers at the scene.
West Midlands Police also raided a packed night club with 150 attendees illegally set up near Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in the early hours of Valentine’s Day
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