Over 100 pick up £30,000 in fines for Covid rule breaches

Over 100 pay £30,000 in Covid court finesOver 100 pay £30,000 in Covid court fines
Over 100 pay £30,000 in Covid court fines
More than 100 people were convicted and fined a total of nearly £30,000 for breaching coronavirus laws in the Northumbria Police area last year, new figures show.

Ministry of Justice data show there were 138 court prosecutions in the force area for breaches of restrictions introduced at the beginning of the pandemic.

This resulted in 119 convictions – leading to a total, £28,557 in fines issued by the courts.

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Fines ranged from £200 to £250, with two convictions resulting in fines of over £750.

Of the convictions, 117 were for breaches of emergency restrictions, one was for leaving their home while potentially infected with Covid-19 and one related to events and gathering.

The figures also show men were far more likely to be breach Covid laws in Northumbria – 96 of the convictions – and people aged between 30 and 39 accounted for the largest proportion.

Nationally 4,365 prosecutions resulted in 3,535 convictions – 81%- and £1.3m in fines were issued.

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The figures come amid criticism of the enforcement of coronavirus restrictions, in particular the use of a fast-track ‘single justice procedure’ system which sees cases dealt with by a legal adviser and a single magistrate out of court.

Griff Ferris, legal and policy officer at Fair Trials, said: “The single justice procedure is rushed justice, on the cheap, and it is completely inappropriate for assessing charges under confusing lockdown laws.”

An MoJ spokesperson said: "The single justice procedure allows those who plead guilty to low-level, non-imprisonable crimes to resolve their case without going to court. All defendants can request an open hearing."