Neatrly 500 fines handed out for COVID breaches
Almost 200 fines for breaches of Covid-19 laws were issued by Cleveland Police since Christmas – over a third of all fines issued since the start of the pandemic.
The approach by police has been called into question by MPs and peers who, who are calling for a review of the law.
Figures published by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) reveal a total of 499 fixed penalty notices were issued by Cleveland Police between March 27 last year and April 18 this year.
They include 186 fines after December 20 – 37% of the total handed out since the pandemic began.
Nationally, police forces have issued 110,322 fixed penalty notices under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations but the Joint Committee on Human Rights say the Act had been misunderstood and wrongly applied by police.
Harriet Harman, JCHR chair, said: “The police have had a difficult job in policing the pandemic and we hope their initial approach – to engage, explain and encourage before issuing fixed penalty notices – will continue.
"However, since January there have been greater numbers of penalty notices as police move more quickly to enforcement action."
Coronavirus rules have changed at least 65 times since March 2020, providing “obvious challenges for police”, say the committee.
Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill, NPCC lead for the police response to Covid-19, said: “When new regulations are issued, we ensure officers have additional guidance on the legislation and we continue to support them to reduce any errors in its application.
"We recognise however that we have not got it right in every circumstance."