Take ‘more personal responsibility’ from July 4, police chiefs urge

Police chiefs have said people must take “more personal responsibility” when Covid-19 lockdown measures are further eased on July 4 as fines for breaches dropped to their lowest level.

Tickets handed out in the two weeks to June 22 fell to just 189 from a high of 5,280 in the fortnight to April 27, according to provisional data released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council on Friday.

A total of 18,439 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) including 15,856 in England and 2,583 in Wales, were recorded by forces up to June 22, according to the provisional data.

Some 1,691 tickets were issued in England since Covid-19 restrictions were first eased on May 13, with just 358 handed out from June 1, when groups of six people were allowed to meet outdoors.

Police were first given powers to break up gatherings and fine people for breaching restriction of movement rules under the Health Protection Regulations 2020 on March 27.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The NPCC said there was an upward trend to a peak in the week ending April 16, which included the Easter Bank holiday, with a fall from mid-May as restrictions began to be eased in England.

The latest figures, which could be revised upwards, show the lowest levels of enforcement since the lockdown began.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “As restrictions ease further from July 4 in England, it is important for everyone to take more personal responsibility for their safety by continuing to follow official advice and government regulations.

“Limiting the spread of the virus should still be everyone’s priority.

“I would like to again thank the vast majority of people for abiding by the lockdown measures and government advice.”

The figures come amid concerns over people flouting Covid-19 guidance at beaches and street parties.

John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation, warned the Government’s announcement about loosening the lockdown on July 4 could be “a countdown to party time”.

“This leads to issues that the police will have to deal with,” he said.

“Firstly, of course, there are worries about alcohol consumption leading to drunken and irresponsible behaviour, and there’s also the concern that people who can’t get into pubs because of restrictions that are still in place may cause conflict.

“This will, without doubt, add more pressure on policing, paramedics and the wider NHS.”

The latest NPCC figures show 79% of fines handed out in England and Wales were to men, with 68% given to people aged under 35.

Some 787 tickets went to repeat offenders, with two people receiving eight fines and three people seven.

The fines carried penalties of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks, with the fine doubled for each repeat offence up to a £960 maximum.

Higher fines were brought in England, £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days, and rising to a maximum of £3,200 for subsequent offences, from May 13.

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