Northumbria Police more likely to issue Blacks and Asians with lockdown fines than white people
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It says the statistics – which show significant disparity across England and Wales – are evidence of the government prioritising criminalisation over public health, and of bias within police forces.
Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request to the National Police Chiefs Council show Northumbria Police issued 1,162 fixed penalty notices for breaches of coronavirus regulations between March 2020 and January 2022, where an ethnicity was stated.
Of these, 1,062 were handed to white people, which – according to the latest population estimates – equates to a rate of 7.9 fines for every 10,000 white people in the area.
Black people received just 28 fines, but this equates to a rate of 31.1 in every 10,000 people – meaning they were 3.9 times more likely to be fined.
And Asian people received fines at a rate of 12.1 per 10,000 people, meaning they were also 1.5 times more likely to be fined.
Figures from 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales, as well as British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police, show black people were around 2.6 times more likely to be fined than white people.
This rate varied from1.5 in North Yorkshire to 10.9 in Sussex, where the figures allowed for an accurate rate to be calculated.
Meanwhile, Asian people and those of mixed ethnicity were 1.9 times and 1.4 times more likely to receive fines, respectively.
The NPCC was asked to provide the number of fixed penalty notices issued for breaches under coronavirus regulations between March 2020 and June 2022, broken down by ethnicity of the person receiving the fine. No fines were issued from February 2022 onwards.
Liberty said the powers handed down to police during the pandemic were too broad and resulted in "heavy-handed policing" and exposed "symptomatic" biases.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said early results from independent analysis of fines – due out this autumn – show disparities across race, but these are "not necessarily a sign of discrimination".