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Coronavirus is a huge threat to the world, impacting countries around the globe. The virus has infected more than 55 million people so far. England is currently in the midst of a second lockdown. Police forces will soon stop issuing COVID-19 “super fines” over concerns these fixed penalty notices can be challenged in court. But how exactly can you be punished for breaching the rules?
Police chiefs across the country have suspended the use of £10,000 fines for those who breach coronavirus rules on large gatherings.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC0 is issuing guidance to chief constables, recommending their officers issue a court summons rather than a straight FPN.
Fixed penalty notices were introduced in September which allow police officers to heavily fine the organisers of raves and other mass gatherings.
The NPCC said they had “advised all forces to temporarily take enforcement steps by way of a summons, rather than issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice to the value of £10,000”.
What were the penalties for breaching the lockdown rules?
People in England who refuse an order to self-isolate could be fined up to £10,000 from September 28.
The new law requires people to self-isolate if they test positive or if they are told to do so by a test and trace official.
Fines begin at £1,000 and rise to £10,000 for the worst offenders, including those who prevent others from self-isolating such as an employer demanding an employee returns to the workplace.
How will you now be punished for breaching coronavirus rules?
The NPCC said £10,000 fines will no longer be handed out over concerns about “inequalities” as those choosing to go to court could pay less.
In a letter to Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, the police and crime commissioner in the West Midlands, David Jamieson, said his force stopped issuing £10,000 fines last week.
Mr Jamieson said he was acting on the advice of the NPCC because of “concerns of inequalities between those who opt to pay the fine and those who opt to go to court where the defendant is then subject to means testing.”
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Instead of being issued a £10,000 fixed penalty notice, rulebreakers will be summonsed directly to go to court.
West Midlands Police has already issued 13 of the fines, reserved for the most serious social-distancing breaches.
Mr Jamieson said: “The fact that the Government has failed to provide hard-working police officers with workable Covid legislation, I view with utter dismay.
“I feel thoroughly embarrassed that I have been personally supporting the Government’s actions, which at best, are questionable.”
How do fines differ in devolved areas of the UK?
In England, people can be fined if they are aged 18 and older starting at £200 for the first offence, doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
In Wales, people aged 18 and over can be fined at the rate of £60 for the first offence and £120 for each second offence.
For Scottish rule-breakers, the fine is £60 for the first offence and then doubles for every further offence up to a maximum of £960.
In Northern Ireland, people can be fined £60 for the first offence, doubling for every additional offence up to a maximum of £960.
Police forces issued the announcement on the first anniversary of the earliest recorded case in China.
The pandemic has now infected 55.6 million people around the world.
The virus has not killed 1,344,164 people and of those who contracted the virus, 38 million have recovered.
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