Coronavirus: Black, Asian and ethnic minorities disproportionately fined for COVID-19 rule breaches

July 27, 2020

Police have disproportionately fined black, Asian and ethnic minority people for breaches of coronavirus rules, new figures show.

The statistics for young BAME men show they were nearly four times more likely to be fined than young white males - 57% of fines for a group that represents 14% of the population.

Across all age groups BAME people were fined at a rate 1.6 times higher than white people, according to figures released by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

The data showed wide variations across the country, with fines for BAME people up to 6.5 times higher than white people in some regions, with rates generally higher in coastal areas and beauty spots.

But the analysis found those areas typically have relatively small BAMe populations, with a small number of fines issued to BAME people leading to high disparity rates.

Cumbria Police issued just three fines to black people, equating to 30 per 10,000 compared with eight per 10,000 white people.

In the past, the NPCC has been criticised for not publishing a full analysis of the disproportionality of fines issued in England and Wales, but it has always argued it was important to get figures out as soon as possible before a detailed study.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: "While it is a complex picture, it is a concern to see disparity between white and black, Asian or ethnic minority people.

"Each force will be looking at this carefully to assess and mitigate any risks of bias - conscious or unconscious - and to minimise disproportionate impact wherever possible.

"Many forces have brought in community representatives to help them scrutinise the circumstances around each fixed penalty notice and if it has been issued fairly."

The report noted that disproportionality for coronavirus fines was far lower than the latest official stop and search statistics, which showed all BAME people were 4.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, and 9.7 times more likely for just black people.

Overall, the report found the number of fines issued across England and Wales was relatively low with a rate of three per 10,000 people, with 70% issued to men aged under 45, who make up 22% of the population.

Young men aged between 18 and 34, who make up 14% of the population, accounted for 57% of those fines - a rate four times higher than if penalties were issued proportionately across all age groups.

In the last fortnight, the NPCC said only eight fines had been issued in England - six for not wearing face masks on public transport, one for breaching large gathering rules and one for not quarantining after arriving in the UK.

Mr Hewitt said he hoped holidaymakers returning from Spain under new and sudden quarantine rules would comply with the government advice to stay at home for 14 days.

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