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BAME people four times more likely to face coronavirus fine in West Mercia

By Deborah Hardiman | Crime | Published:

Residents from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in West Mercia were more than four times as likely to be fined for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules than white people, new figures have shown.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says it was concerned by “disproportionality” in the issuing of fixed penalty notices by forces in England and Wales, but added that the picture was complex with wide variation across the two countries.

West Mercia Police handed out a total of 173 fines between March 27 and May 25.

Of those 133 were to white people and ​25 to those of black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “While it is a complex picture, it is a concern to see disparity between white and black, Asian or ethnic minority people. Each force will be looking at this carefully to assess and mitigate any risks of bias – conscious or unconscious – and to minimise disproportionate impact wherever possible.

“Many forces have brought in community representatives to help them scrutinise the circumstances around each fixed penalty notice and if it has been issued fairly.”

He added that the council was working towards a plan of action to address issues of inclusion and race equality, such as lower trust in police from black communities and concerns around the use of stop and search.

Analysis carried out by Government statisticians on the council’s behalf suggested that people from BAME backgrounds were fined at a rate of five in every 10,000 people, compared to 1.1 in every 10,000 white people.

Meaning fines for BAME people were 4.5 times higher than for white people – well above the national average of 1.6.

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Rates were calculated using police force area population estimates from mid-2016 – the latest year with an ethnicity breakdown. The figures include residents as well as those who travelled to the area.

The data also suggests that across England and Wales, young men aged between 18 and 34, from BAME backgrounds, were over-represented by around twice the rate of young white men in the same age groups.

Analysis showed huge variation in the number of fines issued in different areas of the country, with rates generally higher in coastal areas and beauty spots.

But it found those areas typically have relatively small BAME populations, meaning a small number of fines issued to BAME people could lead to high disparity rates.

Earlier this month, civil liberties group Big Brother Watch demanded a review of all lockdown fines issued in England and Wales, describing the new coronavirus laws as “draconian”.

Mr Hewitt added that issuing fines was a last resort, and the data did not show the “hundreds of thousands of occasions” where a fine was not required once officers spoke with the person flouting the rules.

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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