Northamptonshire Police: 'We issued more fines for breaking coronavirus rules as case numbers rose'

Handful of fines since first lockdown then 16 in three days as force clamps down on Covid-19 laws

Saturday, 7th November 2020, 9:42 am

An increase in fines for breaking coronavirus restrictions coincided with the rising number of positive cases, Northamptonshire Police has admitted.

The force handed out more Covid-19 fixed penalty notices in three days at the end of October than in the previous three-and-a-half months, according to official figures.

Superintendent Elliot Foskett told a virtual press conference yesterday (Friday, November 6): "As a police service, we want to work with communities and we don't want to have to issues tickets but we won't shy away from doing it.

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Superintendent Elliot Foskett

"So we have seen more enforcement activity over the past few weeks. It's fair to say we increased our enforcement activity as we saw a rise in positive cases.

"We're working with our partners in the county and now we've got a joint team to help deal with them.

"We have probably been ahead of the curve than other forces because of our close working with the NHS, public health and other partners.

"We continue to engage with communities and people but where people are putting others' safety at risk, we will deal with it and they will be held accountable."

Laws making it compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and other settings were brought in on September 24.

Police were given powers to issue £200 fines for the first offence — with penalties doubled for repeat offenders.

Northamptonshire Police issued three fines for breaching laws surrounding the 'rule of six' or wearing face coverings between the end of the first lockdown on July 4 and October 19, figures from the National Police Chiefs' Council show.

Yet, in less than a week after those figures were collated, officers:

■ Fined six bus passengers for not wearing face coverings while using public transport.

■ Fined 10 people in Wellingborough for not wearing masks in supermarkets, hairdressers and shops.

■ One offender copped £600 in fines after being caught twice in a matter of minutes.

Supt Foskett said: "We are getting to more breaches than before like not wearing face masks. We've always said that it would be a last resort but this is a last resort as we're in a lockdown..

"So people not wearing masks in public, like in shops or on buses, then you can expect police officers or PCSOs will be out.

"The same if people are not self-isolating when the should be or when they return from abroad and don't quarantine and more - we've given out a range of fixed penalties."

Supt Foskett, along with leaders in the council and emergency services, urged people in Northamptonshire to stick to the new lockdown restrictions during the press conference.

"I would urge people to remember why we are doing this - if you think back to a few months ago when we were clapping for NHS workers, we're here again," he said.

"We didn't want to be here so we want to get out of it as soon as possible so please comply with the rules and let us know if people aren't."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story referred to Elliot Foskett as a sergeant. This is incorrect and the story has been changed to his actual title, Superintendent. We apologise for the error.