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25 Feb, 2021 16:12

‘Completely defiant’ minority have no regard for Covid-19 rules, police say, as almost 70,000 fines issued in England and Wales

‘Completely defiant’ minority have no regard for Covid-19 rules, police say, as almost 70,000 fines issued in England and Wales

A total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices have been handed out by police officers in England and Wales since Covid-19 laws came into effect last year, with more than 10,000 given in London alone.

Data compiled by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) on penalties from March 27, 2020, when the Covid-19 laws took effect, through to February 14, 2021 was released on Thursday.

In the week beginning January 27, police handed out their highest weekly total of the pandemic to date, issuing 6,218 tickets.

“Eleven months on and back into a national lockdown, the rules are really clear and so it is frustrating that we still have a small number of completely defiant and irresponsible people who have no regard for the safety of themselves or others,” NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said of the coronavirus rule breaches.

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In the past few weeks alone, police shut down an illegal nightclub in Birmingham with more than 150 people packed inside over two floors. Officers were pelted with bottles and glasses, and one was injured when a door was smashed open as those inside tried to get out and evade the police.

In Greater Manchester, officers discovered a party that had descended into violence, after receiving reports of up to 50 people fighting, and in South London, an officer was admitted to hospital after being injured while responding to reports of a mass gathering. Glasses, bricks and other objects were thrown at officers, and seven other people were also injured.

Hefty fines are still being meted out to Covid-19 rule-breakers. Police in Nottingham on Saturday fined the organiser of a church group’s meet-up, held in a pub car park, £10,000 for the incident.

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Meanwhile, in Hertfordshire, a funeral director was hit with a £10,000 fine after 150 people turned up at a service on Saturday. Under current Covid-19 laws, a maximum of six people are allowed to attend a wake or a ‘celebration of life’ event, while up to 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral service.

The NPCC figures show that 272 fines for £10,000 apiece have been handed to organisers of mass gatherings – including illegal raves, parties and protests – in England, and three in Wales. Over 480 penalties of £800 have been issued to people attending gatherings of more than 15 people.

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