Calls for review of all coronavirus lockdown fines

The chiefs of police are under increasing pressure to review all fines imposed in England and Wales under coronavirus legislation.

More than 40 MPs and peers have joined the calls by 13 human rights groups, lawyers and activists for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to re-examine the penalties for those who appear to be violating the rules.

According to preliminary NPCC data, a total of 18,439 permanent criminal complaints (FPNs) were registered between March 27 and June 22, including 15,856 in England and 2,583 in Wales.

When the country reached 100 days after the closure, a letter from the group, led by Big Brother Watch, to NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said the case was now "extremely convincing" for a review.

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<p>The PA news letter said: "Currently, the NPCC has neither recognized the systemic problem of unlawful, inconsistent and discriminatory enforcement of emergency laws, nor taken the initiative to support police review of FPNs (firm criminal charges).</p>
<p>"No reasons were given why the NPCC did not support a review.</p>
<p>"The only way to ensure that injustices are identified and remedied is to review any fines already imposed."</p>
<p>Former Conservative Cabinet Secretary Andrew Mitchell, former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and incumbent Liberal Democratic leader Ed Davey, and Baroness Shami Chakrabarti are among other groups including Amnesty International UK and Liberty to put their names on the letter.</p>
<p>Reverend Martin Poole, the pastor of Brighton, who asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock to review all fines during one of the government's daily press conferences in May after the Dominic Cummings affair, also supported the calls.</p>
<p>The letter described the laws as "draconian" and "the strictest restrictions on rights and freedoms" since World War II. Statistics released so far state that there is a "zip code lottery" that imposes fines.</p>
<p>Concerns have been raised about the proposals that disproportionate fines have been imposed on black and Asian people. This has been called "evidence of racism, discrimination and bias".</p>
<p>The North Yorkshire police have imposed the most fines so far (1,122), followed by the Metropolitan Police (1,072) and Devon and Cornwall (978), compared with only 42 in Staffordshire and 58 in Warwickshire.</p>
<p>Analysis of NPCC fines data imposed on England between March 27 and June 22 in England and Wales by the PA news agency found that the rate for people who were not white was 47% higher was.</p>
<p>A comparison of the number of fines with the population based on estimates by the Office for National Statistics on Ethnicity showed that the number of people distributed to whites was approximately 23 per 100,000.</p>
<p>For people with a BAME background, this was 34 fines per 100,000 people.</p>
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<figcaption>A police officer patrols along Bournemouth Beach (Andrew Matthews / PA)</figcaption></figure>
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<p>Earlier this month, it emerged that unlawful law enforcement measures were still taking place under the emergency laws to enforce measures to curb the spread of the virus.</p>
<p>The Crown Prosecutor's Office continues to review all such law enforcement actions for a number of mistakes highlighted by journalists, lawyers, and activists.</p>
<p>Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said there was "no justice for the thousands of people we estimate to have been wrongly fined."</p>
<p>In a previous response, Mr. Hewitt welcomed the "proper review" of the use of the powers, but said that "it is not up to the NPCC to review the work of the individual forces".</p>
<p>He insisted that enforcement was always a "last resort" and added: "Where mistakes were made, we recognized it."</p>
<p>Last week, the NPCC was criticized for the amount of time it took to publish detailed ethnicity data on those fined.</p>
<p>A panel spokesman said: “The letter has been received and is being properly checked. Our ethnicity analysis will be published in July. "</p>
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