Thousands of penalty notices issued during the national coronavirus lockdown have gone unpaid, police have revealed.
Figures showed that of 18,646 enforcement letters sent out in England and Wales, 9,428 resulting fines had been paid, while 9,413 had not.
These include some people who are formally contesting their fine, while others who have not paid fall to be considered for prosecution.
National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt said that as new regulations are brought in, forces in England and Wales are expecting the number of fines issued to increase.
Hewitt said: “We anticipate there will be an increase obviously as regulations are introduced in different parts of the country.
“The FPNs (fixed-penalty notices) were designed in the way that a number of other FPNs are and every individual has the right to decide not to pay that fine and elect to go to court and plead their case.”
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The NPCC said that just 15 fines were handed out in England in the first week of the “rule of six” lockdown regulations, although this number could increase when figures are updated.
In the seven days from 14 September, four fines were issued by Greater Manchester Police, seven by Lancashire Police, two by Leicestershire Police and two by West Yorkshire Police.
In total, 18,912 lockdown fines were issued in England and Wales between 27 March and 21 September.
In the final four weeks of that period, 147 fines were issued in England and four in Wales.
Eighteen fixed-penalty notices for breaking rules around large gatherings including illegal raves and parties, which carry a £10,000 penalty, have been issued in England and two in Wales.
Police have given 61 fines for failing to wear a face covering on public transport, up from 38 up to the middle of August, while 28 were handed out for not doing so in shops.
Hewitt added: “Thank you to the vast majority of the public for sticking to the rules and following the guidance in place to limit the spread of the virus.
“A small minority, however, are not following the rules, and are making decisions which put lives at risk – they should expect to have enforcement action taken against them.”
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