Only 46 fines issued for breaking face mask laws, police data reveals

  • london
  • August 27, 2020
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Police have issued a total of 46 fines to people violating face mask laws in England and Wales, new data has revealed.

Figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) show the majority of these fines were handed out on public transport, with just eight given to people refusing to wear a face covering in a shop.

On June 15 face coverings became mandatory on public transport, and on July 24 it became a legal requirement to wear a face covering in shops and other enclosed indoor spaces.

Transport for London has reported high levels of compliance with the requirements. But supermarkets have said staff will not enforce the law as it puts them in a difficult position, and the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has previously warned face mask rules would be “nigh on impossible for enforcement”.

Scientists have reported face masks help to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (AFP via Getty Images)

The figures, which take in data from police forces in England and Wales since the beginning of lockdown restrictions, showed that between June 15 and August 17, 38 fines were issued on public transport and eight in shops.

Latest updates to coronavirus laws include the powers for police to fine the organisers of illegal raves up to £10,000, with attendees liable for £100 fines.

Separate NPCC data found a total of 18,683 fixed-penalty notices were issued under all new coronavirus laws in England and Wales between March 27 and August 17.

The weekly count for England and Wales shows there was a general upward trend in the first period of the restrictions, which continued through early April and peaked in the week ending April 16, which included the Easter Bank holiday.

There was then generally a flatter trend through the rest of April and early May, with penalties tailing off considerably since then as lockdown restrictions were lifted.

For example, in the last four-week period just 13 fines were issued by forces in England.

The NPCC said levels of crime appear to be rising post-lockdown (Met Police)

The data also showed that, in the four weeks to August 2, recorded assaults on police officers and other emergency services personnel had risen by 31 per cent on the same period last year.

And while the figures suggested overall crime levels are down, recorded rape was also up two per cent in England and Wales, compared with the same period last year.

Shoplifting was down 30 per cent, residential burglaries dropped by 23 per cent, and assaults were down 16 per cent, the data said.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the NPCC, told the Independent: “As restrictions ease across the country, people will want to go out and enjoy themselves but this needs to be done in a socially responsible manner, within the law, and with due regard for everyone’s safety.”

He said that levels of crime appear to be rising faster post-lockdown, adding: “One consequence of the restrictions was the reduction in crime.

“Sadly, we are now seeing crime getting closer to the levels we saw in 2019.

“Police forces are busy tackling and preventing crime, and providing a policing service to their communities, while continuing to play their part in the national effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“I am disgusted to see an increase in assaults on emergency service workers who are the front line in protecting us all, including from this deadly virus.

“We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line.”