Most coronavirus fines are unpaid in some parts of England – data
Written by on 18 November 2020
In some parts of England, more than three in five fines handed out to those who have breached coronavirus restrictions have gone unpaid, new data shows.
Nine forces saw that 60% or more of issued fines given to coronavirus rule-breakers went unpaid within 28 days between 27 March and 21 September, according to figures from the criminal records office ACRO obtained by the Press Association (PA).
It comes a day after it emerged that police forces were told last week to stop issuing “super-fines”, over concerns the GBP10,000 fixed penalty can be challenged in court.
That decision has now been reversed and officers can resume issuing fixed penalty notices, as long as anyone given one made aware they can challenge it in court.
Police to stop issuing GBP10k ‘super fines’
The area with the highest proportion of unpaid fines was Cleveland, according to the data, where 72% of the fines (215 out of 298) were not paid.
In Northumbria, it was 68% of fines that were left unpaid (188 out of 278), and in West Yorkshire it was 66% (497 out of 756).
In other force areas that exceeded 60% were:
- Staffordshire (65%, 28 out of 43)
- Durham (65%, 115 out of 178)
- Humberside (63%, 88 out of 140)
- Merseyside (61%, 300 out of 492)
- West Midlands (61%, 230 out of 380)
- South Yorkshire (60%, 225 out of 375)
- British Transport Police: (60%, 197 out of 327)
It had been previously said that nationally, around 50% of fines had gone unpaid in the 28-day period, with Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chief’s Council, saying that proportion was in-line with other fines.
Across England and Wales, the total number of fines issued between 27 March and 21 September was 18,912, and they can be appealed in the first instance to the issuing police force.
40% or more of fines were rescinded in three areas by police forces – Merseyside (45%, 236), Staffordshire (47%, 20) and Derbyshire (44%, 111).
PA says that as a result of the way that some figures are recorded, there may be some overlap between the number of unpaid fines, those which are being contested and those which have been rescinded.
Raj Chada, a lawyer and head of criminal defence at Hodge Jones & Allen, said that coronavirus regulations are a “mess”, while Kirsty Brimelow QC, a human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers said it was “predictable” that people would stop paying fines.
She added: “Currently, it is a lottery whether you are fined and whether it will be rescinded.
“And it is questionable as to how effective issuing fines is to preventing the spread of the virus.
“Rather they are adding stress and hardship to people who already are suffering.”