More than 500 Covid fines issued by Humberside Police

Humberside Police has issued more than 500 fines for breaches of Covid-19-related laws – but fewer have been handed out since restrictions eased.

Humberside Police has issued more than 500 fines for breaches of Covid-19-related laws – but fewer have been handed out since restrictions eased.

Human rights campaign groups say rapidly changing rules and "chaotic communications" have led to confusion over the fine system nationally, with some people unaware they were breaking the law.

Figures published by the National Police Chiefs' Council reveal a total of 522 fixed penalty notices were issued by Humberside Police between March 27 last year and May 16 this year.

They include 115 fines handed out after April 18 – 36 fewer than the 151 processed in the previous five weeks.

The latest figures cover the easing of restrictions on April 12, which saw the return of outdoor hospitality, non-essential retail and gyms as well as the "rule of six" outdoors.

However, they do not cover the May 17 reopening which saw different households allowed to mix indoors for the first time in months.

A spokesman for Humberside Police said that the force has implemented an Engage, Explain and Encourage approach, with Enforcement used where there are have been blatant breaches of restrictions or individuals have refused the engagement and education offered.

Assistant Chief Constable Darren Downs explained: “Our officers have, and will continue to patrol hotspot areas throughout our communities and are engaging with local residents.

“Whilst the restrictions have eased slightly over the last couple of months, this is not the time to forget all of the hard work that has gone into the last few months by both members of the public and our National Health Service.

“Adhering to the guidelines is essential and everyone has a responsibility under this.

“If you see our officers around, and if you have any concerns, please do speak with them and they’ll be happy to assist.”

Of the fines issued in Humberside between March 27 last year and May 16 this year the majority – 517 – were recorded under legislation which covers the restriction of movement and large gatherings.

Under other Covid-19-related regulations, there was one for failing to wear a face covering when required, and four for breaching international travel rules.

People issued with a fine – the maximum is £10,000 – have up to 28 days to pay. Those who cannot pay or wish to contest it can take the matter before the courts.

Across England and Wales, 120,519 fines were issued by the 43 territorial police forces, British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence for alleged breaches of Covid-19-related laws.

Of those, 5,117 were handed out in the four weeks to May 16, down from 16,699 the month before.

Chairman of the NPCC, Martin Hewitt, said a drop in the number of fines in recent weeks had been expected due to the lifting of restrictions.

But he said police officers would not stop in taking action against rule-breakers across the country.

He added: “For the selfish minority who continue to blatantly break the rules, such as organising or attending illegal indoor gatherings, officers won’t hesitate to take necessary enforcement action."