Rise in Covid fines as police make 'deliberate decision' to step up action

Police say they made a “deliberate decision” to step up enforcement of Covid regulations, as new figures show 656 fines were issued in 28 days.

West Mercia police have handed out 656 Covid fines in the 28 days up to February 14.
West Mercia police have handed out 656 Covid fines in the 28 days up to February 14.

The fixed penalty notices were handed out by West Mercia Police for breaches of the lockdown rules between January 17 and February 14.

It is a significant rise with the force having issued 999 between March 27, last year, and January 17. It means that the total issued by the force has now reached 1,655.

Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss of West Mercia Police said the rise had come after a deliberate decision to increase the level of enforcement.

He also said that where officers had encountered “blatant disregard” for the rules, they were “not getting into a debate or discussion about it”.

He said: “As we are all well aware we are still in the midst of the pandemic and the rules are there for a reason.

“We made the deliberate decision to step up our level of enforcement at the beginning of the current lockdown across the force area from January 6.

“We have aimed to make our enforcement proportionate to the local risk of infection in each local authority area.

“Covid-19 has killed thousands of people, and while we now have a roadmap out of lockdown it is imperative people abide by the regulations to ensure transmission is reduced and lives saved.

“We will continue to follow the four E policy of engage, explain, encourage and, if necessary, enforcement.

"However, where there is a blatant disregard for the rules officers are not getting into a debate or discussion about it.

Scrutiny

“The vast majority of the public are abiding by the regulations and for that we are extremely grateful.”

The region’s crime commissioner, John Campion said he was satisfied the force had been proportionate in its handling of breaches of the regulations.

He said: “West Mercia Police has a duty to uphold the law for the benefit of the community collectively, including the laws associated with the current Covid-19 health emergency.

"It is my role as Commissioner to seek reassurance that West Mercia Police’s response is fair and proportionate, and is in the interest of the communities it serves – a role I take very seriously.

“The last year has been extremely challenging for everyone, and I am pleased that most of our communities have heeded Government advice.

"As commissioner I am reassured that West Mercia Police has followed a clear mission to engage with and support communities through the pandemic; however, there will always be people that do not believe that the law applies to them, and consequently put others at risk.

"I am confident that the scrutiny and oversight of this issue will give our communities confidence that their police force has a vital role to play in beating this virus.”

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