Residents more likely to have been fined in lockdown than tourists visiting the Fylde coast

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Residents across the Fylde coast were more likely to have received a fixed penalty notice (FPN) during lockdown than someone outside of Lancashire despite the fact it’s the opposite in other tourist traps across the country.

Analysis of FPNs issued by police forces in England and Wales under the Covid-19 regulations shows that Lancashire Police issued 756 fines between March 27 and May 25.

The data, compiled by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) reveals that only 12 per cent of the fines were issued to people not living in Lancashire.

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Out of the 43 police forces analysed only seven had a higher percentage than Lancashire for issuing fines to residents rather than tourists.

Residents in Lancashire received far more fines than touristsResidents in Lancashire received far more fines than tourists
Residents in Lancashire received far more fines than tourists

The statistics differ from other data compiled by the NPCC which found forces with rural and coastal areas tended to issue higher proportions of fines to non-residents than forces covering larger urban areas.

Just under a third (29 per cent) of all FPNs were issued to individuals in police force areas where they did not permanently reside.

Several forces were highlighted as having issued relatively high proportions of FPNs to non-residents.

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Forces with the highest such proportions were Dorset (78 per cent), North Wales (69 per cent), Dyfed-Powys (57 per cent), Sussex (55 per cent), North Yorkshire (55 per cent), Surrey (52per cent), Cumbria (41 per cent) and Gloucestershire (41 per cent).

The NPCC said that under analysis at the relationship between the proportion of fines issued to nonresidents and the population density of police force areas it showed that many of those areas with the highest proportion of fines issued to non-residents also had a lower population density.

A spokesman for the NPCC said: “For example, Dyfed-Powys has the lowest population density of 47 people per square kilometre and over half of their FPNs were issued to non-residents.

“This contrasted with the four most densely populated metropolitan areas where below average levels of FPNs were issued to non-residents.”

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The number of FPNs issued by forces across England and Wales was relatively low – 17,039 in total and a rate across all of England and Wales equivalent to 3 per 10,000 resident population.

A spokesman for the NPCC said: “To put these figures into context, in the four weeks to May 24, police recorded 134,188 incidents related to Covid-19.

“This will include a wide range of incidents including cases when officers proactively offered advice to people, responded to reports from the members of the public alleging breaches of the regulations by others and offences where criminals have sought to take advantage of the pandemic.

“This under-counts the actual number of interactions with members of the public related to the policing of the public health regulations as it only captures those that require recording on force incident management systems and will not include advice proactively given by officers to members of the public.”

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Among the other findings by the NPCC, Lancashire Police was found to have issued 19 lockdown fines per 10,000 people from ethnic minorities, five times the rate that they were given to for people who identified as white (3.8 per 10,000 people).

Of the 756 fines issued, 516 were to White people and 239 to people from ethnic minority communities. Of the fines issued to black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME), the vast majority (213 fines) were issued to people who identify as Asian.

NPCC’s chair Martin Hewitt, said: “This analysis enables individual chief constables to better interrogate and understand the data in their local context. It also enables communities to scrutinise the data and ask questions of their local police.

“The number of FPNs issued overall is low reflecting our approach of enforcing only as a last resort. It is also important to recognise that this data presents only a partial picture as it does not show the hundreds of thousands of interactions with the public where engagement, explanation and encouragement was effective and there was no need to issue a fine. Those who were given a fine did not follow the regulations that millions of others were abiding by, which were there to control the spread of a deadly virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

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"Rural and coastal forces that attract tourists issued significantly more FPNs to non-residents, which has significantly affected the level of disparity between white and people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds compared with other forces who issued fewer relatively to non-residents.”

Lancashire Police wouldn’t comment directly on the breakdown of residents and non-residents fined during the first two months of lockdown.

However a spokesman for the force said: “Lancashire Constabulary reviewed every fine issued and are confident that the majority have been issued appropriately in the circumstances”.

“Our approach since the regulations were introduced has always been to engage with people, explain the regulations to them, encourage them to follow them and only enforce them through fines as a last resort.

“Indeed, we had over 15,000 Covid-related incidents reported to Lancashire Constabulary and issued just 756 fines.”