Northamptonshire's top police officer says Covid-19 fines should be bigger

The police chief says he thinks higher fines might deter some persistent law-breakers

By Kate Cronin
Thursday, 21st May 2020, 5:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st May 2020, 5:30 pm
Three of the county's most senior police officers spoke to local people on a Facebook Q&A this afternoon. Northants is the only force in the country to hold this type of session.
Three of the county's most senior police officers spoke to local people on a Facebook Q&A this afternoon. Northants is the only force in the country to hold this type of session.

The most senior police officer in Northamptonshire says he believes that fines should be bigger for people who keep breaking lockdown laws.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley said in a live Q&A session on Facebook this evening ~(Thursday, May 21) that he thinks that people who ignore new laws brought in to help stop the spread of coronavirus should be hit in the pocket.

When asked if he thought fines should be increased as a deterrent to those in breach of the guidelines, he said: "I think there is a case for that if I'm honest.

"What we've had here over this period, the eight or nine weeks that we've had this now, is people committing offences seven times, eight times persistently, not heeding the warnings, with no regard whatsoever for their own safety but more importantly for the safety of others too.

"I know the doubling up happens up to a maximum now of £3,200 which is a significant sum.

"That of course make problems further down the lines in terms of how do we impose and make sure that those fines are paid and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"Personally I think it should be a higher figure."

Superintendent Elliot Foskett, who is one of those leading the force's response to the Covid-19 pandemic said he agreed with his boss: He said: "The fine went up from £60 to £100 so it's not small beans really. Would a higher fine make a difference?

"I think there is a case."

Since the beginning of lockdown, there have been just 338 fines issued to Covid law-breakers in Northamptonshire. Mr Adderley said that the public had been 'phenomenal' and largely compliant.

He said: "This is a life and death situation. People may not show the symptoms and it may sound dramatic but the figures speak for themselves and that's why we want to keep working with you."

He also said that he was proud of officers who had continued to come into work despite the crisis, and revealed that sickness rates were at their lowest for 15 years. He said just 2.5 per cent of officers were currently off sick, lower than anticipated, and that morale was high, thanks in part to the way in which the community had responded to officers during the pandemic.

He added: "This is a very family friendly force. During this crisis it's really important that we do stick together. We bond closely and we make sure that we look out for each other."

Chief Constable Adderley said that two weekends ago following VE day the number of calls were busier than New Year's Eve levels.

He said: "The vast majority of those were Covid related. Every single one of those was recorded and worked through. We had over 1,000 of those incidents that needed to be triaged.

"Those were there are mass gatherings will get a quicker response.

"The latest figures show that that was consuming around 95 per cent of our demand. That's now down to 44 per cent so things have definitely dropped-off which is great to see."

After pictures of packed beaches appeared on national news programmes last night, one worried local person asked if officers were worried about policing the forthcoming bank holiday.

Chief Constable Adderley added: "The bank holiday is going to be a challenge, there's no question about it

Supt Foskett said that extra officers would be on duty over the weekend. "We've got a number of specials coming on this weekend too.

"We're patroling all of the places that you've identified as well as the ones we've identified as being areas where we need to pay some particular attention to.

"Don't go out unless you really need to go out. It's about making sure you stay as safe as you can and keep other people as safe as you can."