Covid fine postcode lottery: Where does your region rank?

The Covid fine postcode lottery: Police in parts of Britain are 80 TIMES more likely to hand out coronavirus penalties than others – so where does your region rank?

  • Dyfed Powys, Cumbria  and North Yorkshire constabularies hand out most fines
  • Forces in Kent, Staffordshire and Warickshire were the lowest per 1,000 people 
  • ‘Your treatment by police should not be dependent on postcode,’ argues lawyer 

Police in one part of Britain are 80 times more likely to hand out coronavirus fines than others, new figures have revealed.

A breakdown of fixed penalty notices handed out by each constabulary has revealed a postcode lottery when it comes to punishments for breaking social distancing rules. 

According to the Office for National Statistics The three forces in England and Wales that issued the highest number of fixed penalty notices per 1,000 population were Dyfed Powys with 3.34, followed by Cumbria with 1.46, and North Yorkshire with 1.4.

The three forces at the bottom of the table were Staffordshire police with 0.038, Kent Police with 0.07 and Warwickshire with 0.11. 

Police can issue fines to people breaking the rule of six, or for not wearing masks on public transport, as seen at King’s Cross station last Thursday, above, 

Last week it was revealed just three forces, British Transport Police and constabularies in Lancashire and Lincolnshire, had issued fines to people who refused to wear face masks.

Human rights lawyer Kirsty Brimelow told the Independent, which first carried out the analysis using different population figures to the PA news agency: ‘Your treatment by the police should not be dependent upon your postcode.

‘It is likely that the arbitrary results reflect the leadership given to the particular police force.

‘We’ve seen many examples of police chiefs signalling tough action, which went beyond their powers.’

According to analysis by PA using 2018 police force area population totals published by the ONS, fine rates in some parts of England with additional restrictions in place remained below average.

Greater Manchester (0.163, 31st), West Midlands (0.13, 37th) and Northumbria (0.19, 29th) were all in the lower half of the rankings, while Durham (0.28, 21st) and West Yorkshire (18th, 0.33) were near the middle.

However, Lancashire (0.55) and Cleveland (0.52) came in seventh and eighth place respectively.

In Wales, which has its own lockdown rules, North Wales was in fifth place with 0.68, South Wales in 25th with 0.23 and Gwent in 27th with 0.22.

At the end of September it was revealed more than half of people to be issued a fine for breaking social distancing rules had not paid the penalty.

Fines can be issued for Covid-19 rules such as as not wearing a mask on public transport/in shops, disobeying the rule of six, or, in the earlier months of  the pandemic, going outside without a valid reason. 

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt said that as new regulations are brought in, forces in England and Wales are expecting the number of fines issued to increase.

Police were seen patrolling parks in the early months of the pandemic to ensure people were only outside for permittable reasons – but recent figures have revealed more than half of fines issued by officers have gone unpaid

He made the prediction despite figures showing that, of 18,646 enforcement letters sent out in England and Wales, only 9,428 resulting fines had been paid, while 9,413 had not.

These include some people who are formally contesting their fine, while others who have not paid fall to be considered for prosecution.

Other data published by the NPCC on Wednesday also showed that hundreds of travellers suspected of breaking quarantine rules had not been traced. 

Since social distancing rules were first introduced at the end of March, police have tried to avoid fines wherever possible.

Instead officers try the four Es, engaging with the public, explaining the rules, encouraging them to go home or comply and if necessary, enforce a fine or appropriate punishment.  

Where are you most likely to get a lockdown fine? 

Dyfed-Powys Police 1,731, 3.34

Cumbria Constabulary 727, 1.46

North Yorkshire Police 1,151, 1.4

Dorset Police 843, 1.09

North Wales Police 476, 0.68

Devon & Cornwall Police 1,010, 0.57

Lancashire Constabulary 828, 0.55

Cleveland Police 298, 0.52

Sussex Police 868, 0.51

Northamptonshire Police 371, 0.5

Norfolk Constabulary 410, 0.45

Surrey Police 512, 0.43

Bedfordshire Police 280, 0.42

Gloucestershire Constabulary 232, 0.37

Leicestershire Police 396, 0.36

Merseyside Police 492, 0.3457

Suffolk Constabulary 262, 0.3453

West Yorkshire Police 756, 0.33

Thames Valley Police 756, 0.314

Lincolnshire Police 237, 0.3136

Durham Constabulary 178, 0.28

South Yorkshire Police 375, 0.27

Wiltshire Police 188, 0.26

Derbyshire Constabulary 253, 0.24

South Wales Police 309, 0.232

Hertfordshire Constabulary 273, 0.23

Gwent Police 132, 0.22

Avon and Somerset Constabulary 350, 0.2

Northumbria Police 278, 0.19

Cheshire Constabulary 197, 0.185

Greater Manchester Police 459, 0.163

Nottinghamshire Police 186, 0.161

Cambridgeshire Constabulary 133, 0.156

Humberside Police 140, 0.15

West Mercia 170, 0.132

Essex Police 240, 0.1309

West Midlands Police 380, 0.1303

Hampshire Constabulary 253, 0.1274

Metropolitan Police Service 1,088, 0.12

Warwickshire 64, 0.11

Kent Police 126, 0.07

Staffordshire Police 43, 0.038

The list is: name of force, total number of fines issued from March 27 to September 21, number of fines per 1,000 population. 

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