On-the-Spot Fines Quadrupled in England Lockdown

November 30, 2020 Updated: December 28, 2020

The number of on-the-spot fines handed out by police in England for breaches of COVID-19 curbs shot up during the national lockdown.

According to figures from the National Police Chief’s Council, Fixed Penalty Notices quadrupled over the last monthly period, which covers only the first two weeks of the month-long lockdown that ends tomorrow night.

In total, 4,460 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) were issued during the month ending Nov. 16, compared to 1,103 in the previous period, according to the figures published today.

At the height of the lockdown in April, over 3,000 fines were given out in one week in England and Wales, dropping to fewer than 100 a week by July as restrictions were lifted.

FPNs are fines that can be directly meted out by police if they reasonably believe an offence has been committed, without the need to go through a court.

A total of 133 on-the-spot fines were issued for breaking rules that ban gatherings of more than 30 people—which carries a £10,000 penalty. That’s over double the number of the previous month.

London Protest police
Police officers take away a man ahead of an anti-lockdown protest against government restrictions designed to control or mitigate the spread of the CCP virus, including the wearing of masks and lockdowns, at Kings Cross station in London, on Nov. 28, 2020. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, police suspended those £10,000 fines after concerns about fairness and people’s ability to pay.

For five days, police were told to take all cases through the courts, where magistrates could tailor the fines to fit people’s circumstances.

They resumed handing out these fines after issuing guidance to ensure people would be “made fully aware of their options when faced with a £10K FPN, to ensure fairness.”

Those options include refusing to pay and instead challenging the case in court—where even if found guilty, they may be allowed to pay a much lower fine after means-testing.

The data does not include arrests made over breaches of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus regulations.

London Protest police
A man is seen being restrained by police during a protest in London, on Nov. 28, 2020. (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

One hundred and fifty-five arrests have been made during anti-lockdown protests in central London, the Metropolitan Police said on Saturday.

The Met said the arrests were for offences including breaching lockdown rules, assaulting a police officer, and possession of drugs.

“Thank you to the vast majority of the public for sticking to the rules and following the guidance in place to limit the spread of the virus. Police will play their part to help the public navigate and understand changes in their area, particularly as we approach the festive period,” Martin Hewitt, National Police Chiefs’ Council chair, said in a statement.

“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.”

In total, 24,933 FPNs have been recorded as having been issued in England and Wales to date.

In the two months that followed the start of the spring lockdown, a total of 17,039 fines were handed out across all of England and Wales—a rate of 3 fines per 10,000 people.

In England, breaching most COVID-19 rules carries a £100 for the first offence, which is halved to £50 if paid within 14 days. The fine doubles on repeat offences up to a maximum of £3,200.

However, since Sept. 28, breaking self-isolation rules has carried a £1,000 fine, which can increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences “and for the most egregious breaches.”

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