New figures have revealed that Northumbria Police have handed out the most fines for Covid-19 breaches with more than 3,000 issued.
The police force topped the list after issuing nearly a tenth of all fines, with 3,034 fixed penalty notices handed out between March 27 and December 21 last year.
Elsewhere across the North East, Durham Constabulary and Cleveland Police handed out much fewer fines with 253 and 313 while North Yorkshire Police issued 1,484.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) compiled a list of police forces across the country which showed that 32,329 fixed penalty notices were issued by forces in England and Wales over the nine-month period.
The report said there had been a downward trend in recent weeks after a surge in fines as restrictions were tightened from September, the Mirror reports.
A peak of 3,288 came during the week of the Easter Bank Holiday in April and the most recent weekly figures showed that 542 tickets were handed out in the week to December 17, compared with 821 in the previous seven days.
A total of 958 fines were issued for face coverings between June 15 and December 20, including 199 on public transport, an average of seven a week while the remaining 759 were handed out in places such as shops.
The weekly number rose sharply to 78 between October 2 and 8, remaining at a similar level until late November, when it began to decline, with 33 fines issued in the most recent full week to December 17.
Speaking of the numbers NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Enforcement doesn’t and shouldn’t always equal police involvement or the issuance of a fixed penalty notice.
“It is right for officers to be inquisitive about why individuals may be away from home.
“Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice and we’ll target our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.”
The figures come after senior officers warned of tougher enforcement during the latest national lockdown in England.
Northumbria Police previously said they will enforce action on people who “knowingly break the rules” and said it can ultimately endanger lives.
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Hall previously said: “Throughout the pandemic, officers have been engaging with communities, explaining the regulations which are in place, encouraging people to follow them – and where necessary taking enforcement action.
“This deliberate approach is rooted in the very tradition of policing by consent.
“We will continue to speak to people about the restrictions and offer advice to those who have mistakenly broken them.
“However, as we have previously made clear, we won’t waste time with endless encouragement for people who knowingly break the rules, undermine the efforts of others and ultimately endanger lives. They should expect to receive enforcement action.
“We will also continue to work with our partners from local authorities to ensure those vital businesses which remain open are operating in accordance with the regulations and where necessary support them in addressing unacceptable behaviours by customers.
“When we receive reports from the public of suspected breaches of the legislation we will send officers where it is proportionate to do so while balancing our response with other incidents we have to attend.”
Below is the full list of the number of fines issued by police forces in England between March 27 and December 20 for breaches of coronavirus laws:
– Avon and Somerset: 610
– Bedfordshire: 321
– British Transport Police (BTP): 452
– Cambridgeshire: 280
– Cheshire: 440
– City of London: 86
– Cleveland: 313
– Cumbria: 941
– Derbyshire: 301
– Devon and Cornwall: 1,233
– Dorset: 1,010
– Durham: 253
– Essex: 505
– Gloucestershire: 279
– Greater Manchester: 2,183
– Hampshire: 567
– Hertfordshire: 380
– Humberside: 169
– Kent: 270
– Lancashire: 1,506
– Leicestershire: 618
– Lincolnshire: 367
– Merseyside: 1,411
– Metropolitan Police: 1,761
– Ministry of Defence Police: 37
– Norfolk: 459
– North Yorkshire: 1,484
– Northamptonshire: 848
– Northumbria: 3,034
– Nottinghamshire: 906
– South Yorkshire: 673
– Staffordshire: 382
– Suffolk: 315
– Surrey: 573
– Sussex: 892
– Thames Valley: 965
– Warwickshire: 478
– West Mercia: 748
– West Midlands: 970
– West Yorkshire: 1,061
– Wiltshire: 208
Below is the number of fines issued by police forces in Wales in the same time frame:
– BTP: 31
– Dyfed-Powys: 1,784
– Gwent: 295
– North Wales: 625
– South Wales: 856
The numbers above exceed the overall England and Wales total of 32,329 for the time period because some fixed penalty notices issued cover multiple breaches and are therefore recorded more than once in the force-by-force breakdown, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said.