Surrey Police welcomes publication of independent analysis of Coronavirus fines
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Surrey Police has welcomed the National Police Chiefs Council’s publication today of independent analysis of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued by police under the Coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations.
Nationally, the analysis shows a low overall rate in fines issued across England and Wales with young men receiving the biggest proportion. It also shows black, Asian and ethnic minority people were issued with an FPN at a rate 1.6 times higher than white people.
Locally, in Surrey, between 27 March and 25 May, 486 Covid-19 related fixed penalty notices were issued. During the same period 17,039 FPNs were issued across England and Wales, Surrey represents 2.85% of the national total.
Men, especially those under 45-years-old, were disproportionately represented in those given an FPN. Nationally 70 per cent of FPNs issued went to men under 45 when they comprise 22 per cent of the population. In Surrey 406 fixed penalty notice were issued to men up to 24 May, which accounts for 84% of the total. When looking at the total number of FPNs issued in Surrey to the same date 427 were issued to people under 45-years-old, 88% of the total, with the age group receiving the highest number of FPNs being 19-years-old (with 47 FPNs issued)
Of the FPNs issued in Surrey, 361 were issued to people identifying as white, and 120 were issued to people identifying as from a BAME background. Five of the FPNs issued did not include ethnicity information. The data for disparity rates (i.e. the rates per 10,000 BAME people as a ratio of the rates per 10,000 white people) shows black, Asian and ethnic minority people were issued with an FPN at a rate of 3.3 per 10,000 as compared to 1 for white people in Surrey.
A total of 254 of the total number of FPNs issued were given to non-residents of Surrey. Of these 160 were issued to people identifying as white, and 91 were issued to people identifying as from a BAME background. The data for disparity rates shows black, Asian and ethnic minority people living in Surrey were issued with an FPN at a rate 1.5 per 10,000 compared to 1 for white people, this rises to 5.7 for black, Asian and ethnic minority people when just looking at non-residents of the county.
In line with national guidance set by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, which came into effect at the end of March, officers, PCSOs and Specials used enforcement as a last resort. Every effort was made to engage with individuals to explain the regulations and encourage compliance with the regulations.
The analysis, undertaken by the Government Statistical Service also showed:
- Considerable variation across force areas with the disparity rate ranging from 1 to 6.5 (Surrey is 3.3) comparing all BAME people with white people. Rates were generally higher in those force areas that attract tourists to coastal areas and beauty spots or are counties with main road networks to coastal areas. In Surrey 39% of FPNs issued were at beauty spot locations or on main arterial routes.
- That areas with low BAME populations saw the highest disproportionality which has been the case for Surrey.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Alison Barlow said: “We welcome the publication of this independent analysis. We must be transparent and accountable around our work, especially when implementing new legislation”.
“The number of fines issued in Surrey was relatively low in comparison to the thousands of positive interactions our officers and PCSOs had with the public using the 4Es approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to comply, with enforcement as a last resort. This was a challenging time for all. The majority of Surrey residents, along with my officers and staff have been focused on staying safe and protecting the NHS during this public health emergency.
“Since the change in legislation back in March, 90% of the number of FPNs given during this time have been due to people being in a gathering of more than two or for contravening the restriction of movement during the peak of the emergency. We fully acknowledge the disparity rate found in this review and we will be learning from this to ensure that we mitigate any risk or bias when dealing with matters in our communities.
“In Surrey we have always taken great pride in our strong, community-based relationships and we work hard to gain the trust and confidence of the public. More recently in our joint neighbourhood survey, of the 1620 people asked, 91.9% had confidence in us as a force when answering the question - taking everything into account, how confident are you in your neighbourhood police. To support our efforts in this we have established advisory groups who we will continue to turn to, to ensure we are doing the best for our diverse Surrey communities.
“If, as a member of the public, you don’t feel that we dealt fairly with you when receiving a fixed penalty notice then we want to hear from you. You can call us at any time on 101.
“We will work alongside the National Police Chiefs Council to develop a plan of action to address racial disparities that still exist in policing - like the lower trust in us from black communities, their concerns about use of powers like stop and search and the concerns from people of colour within policing about inclusivity and equality at work.
“I would however like to take this opportunity to remind people to continue to take responsibility for looking after each other by following the Government regulations and guidelines. We should not become complacent to ensure that the spread of the virus does not increase again, which could undo all of the hard work that each and every one of our communities across Surrey has undertaken”.