Police have suspended on-the-spot £10,000 Covid fines over fears people who choose to go to court can get away with paying less.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said officers will not be dishing out the fixed notice penalties amid the ‘inequalities’.
The new system will see flouters get a summons to go to a magistrates’ court and be means tested.
It could see them paying less than £10,000 or having more time to pay it back after they are assessed.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said officers will not be dishing out the fixed notice penalties amid the ‘inequalities’ (file photo)
The NPCC wants to change its advice to police so officers can offer people the chance to go to court to be means tested rather than fined on the spot.
It has called for the £10,000 fine to be replaced by a summons while the guidance is finalised.
People are fined if they break government coronavirus rules by hosting raves or events or do not self-isolate when told to.
It comes after police shut down three illegal parties in one night across Merseyside this week.
Officers were called to three properties over the weekend and slapped organisers with fines following the breach of
Twenty-seven revellers were issued with fixed penalty notices at a rental property on Lace Street, Liverpool City Centre, on Saturday at 6.10pm after reports of a party.
Twenty-seven revellers were issued with fixed penalty notices at a rental property on Lace Street, Liverpool City Centre, (pictured, stock image) on Saturday at 6.10pm after reports of a party
Police were also called to a gathering at a property at 12.20am on Oldham Street, Liverpool, (pictured, stock image) where two fixed penalties were issued
Police were also called to a gathering at a property at 12.20am on Oldham Street, Liverpool, where two fixed penalties were issued.
Seven people on-board a moored boat on Coburg Wharf, Liverpool City Centre, were issued with fixed penalty notices and a quantity of Class A drugs were seized.
Police were called to the boat at 7am following reports that a party was taking place.
The value of the fine is dependent on a number of factors including when the fine is paid and the number of offences committed, but can be up to £10,000.
Superintendent Diana Pownall told how Merseyside Police are ‘seeing an increased number of reports from members of the public in relation to these illegal gatherings’.
She said: ‘We are seeing an increased number of reports from members of the public in relation to these illegal gatherings which shows how annoying and frustrating it has become for those who are abiding by the law when they see people blatantly ignoring it.
‘We have all had special occasions which we have had to postpone or adapt during the Coronavirus restrictions and lockdown.
‘These people are no different than the rest of us but their selfish actions suggest that they think they are above the law.
Seven people on-board a moored boat on Coburg Wharf, Liverpool City Centre, were issued with fixed penalty notices and a quantity of Class A drugs were seized
‘The law is clear – people should not be gathering in groups with people who are not in their own household or support bubble. The restrictions are in place for a reason – to ensure that we can stop the spread of the virus and keep ourselves, our loved ones and other people safe.
‘We have constantly sought to engage and explain to the public what the restrictions mean – and as always we would like to thank the people who have done what has been asked of them.
‘With our partners we are here to keep everyone safe and we make no apologies for taking action when people choose to break the law.’
Merseyside and Greater Manchester have seen their coronavirus figures rocket over the past month.
There have been 226,434 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the North West of England since the start of the pandemic.
It has seen the highest number of Covid cases in the nation, reaching 416.1 per 100,000 people, last week.
The chiefs’ warning: Open letter promising to crackdown on those flouting Covid rules
As the Police Chiefs responsible for the North West we have seen first-hand the misery the pandemic has caused, but we have also seen great support from the majority of our communities.
We have tried to ensure we have maintained the principle of policing with consent, that sets apart policing in this country from other parts of the world.
Along with police forces nationally, we have taken a very measured approach to enforcement from the start of the pandemic, recognising the restrictions placed on all our lives were unprecedented.
We used the 4E’s model of Engage, Explain, Encourage and only as a last resort Enforce, in relation to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for breaching the Coronavirus legislation.
Sadly we have seen a minority right across the North West who seem incapable of demonstrating any civic responsibility and complying with the regulations.
We know from focus groups and regional insight work the majority of the public would wish to see the Police Service taking a consistent and robust approach to enforcement.
Since local restrictions have been necessary across large parts of the North West we have taken a firmer stance on enforcing the restrictions, moving more quickly to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for those deliberately flouting the law and putting lives at risk.
As we head into further significant restrictions from 00.01 on Thursday 5 November 2020 we wanted to give these collective messages:
To the majority of our communities who have tried so hard to comply with restrictions, please carry on.
We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives.
To the minority who feel the restrictions don’t apply to them be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement.
We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions, such as self-isolating where necessary.
Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them.
We are therefore seeking support from Government and the Judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly.
Let us all do everything we can to get through this most awful of times and prevent any further suffering across the North West.
Yours sincerely, Darren Martland, Chief Constable Cheshire Constabulary; Michelle Skeer, Chief Constable, Cumbria Constabulary; Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police; Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable Lancashire Constabulary; Andy Cooke Chief Constable Merseyside Police