Data released to show ethnicity of those receiving COVID-19 fines

Wiltshire Police crest

Figures released today (27/07) show the proportion of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued to BAME people across the country.

The data, issued by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), for the lockdown period since 27 March shows that Wiltshire Police issued a total of 183 FPNs, with 150 going to people of white ethnicity and 24 to people of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. There were a small number of cases where the ethnicity was not recorded.

These figures cover the period between 27/03 and a date in mid May when this data was requested by the NPCC, but a full breakdown of our FPN figures can be found in the reports regularly published on our website.

The NPCC report shows that the number of FPNs issued to BAME people in Wiltshire was at a rate of 4.7 per 10,000 population, compared to 2.3 per 10,000 population for white people.

However, these figures are largely in line with the picture across England and Wales, and are significantly lower than other police forces regionally.

The overall number of FPNs is also low in Wiltshire, due to the focus on educating and engaging with the public and only using enforcement action as a last resort.

Wiltshire Police has not issued a FPN since 31 May, and has not had to make a COVID19-related arrest since the week commencing 8 June. 

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jerry Herbert said Wiltshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) had been one of the first police forces in the country to regularly publish its FPN data, including a breakdown of the ethnicity, gender and age of the people receiving fines, on its website.

He said: "From the very beginning of the COVID19 pandemic we were clear that we wanted to ensure the process of issuing fixed penalty notices was carefully and thoroughly scrutinised to ensure it was fair, transparent and appropriate.

"Each FPN has been independently examined and we have regularly published detailed reports on our website, outlining our figures for who exactly has been fined.

"We want the public to have confidence that police officers in Wiltshire have used these new powers in a proportionate and fair way and I believe our scrutiny process shows that we have been transparent at every stage."

A Scrutiny Panel meets regularly to review all FPNs issued in Wiltshire and Swindon with an option to recommend that unlawful and/or disproportionate notices are rescinded.

This review has resulted in 15 FPNs being rescinded, in some cases because individuals were subsequently charged in connection with more serious offences. 

Over the past week (13 - 19 July) Wiltshire Police has recorded three COVID19-related incidents and four COVID19-related crimes.

Assistant Chief Constable Deb Smith said that despite good engagement with our communities and an overwhelmingly positive response from the public in terms of cooperation with the restrictions, it was important not to become complacent.

She said: "At every stage of the police response to the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of people understand the importance of the Government's rules and regulations in order to help keep us all safe.

"The recent reopening of pubs and restaurants has gone ahead without serious issues and we are seeing people trying to socially distance when they are out and about.

"However, Friday saw the introduction of new legislation making it compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets and we need to work hard once again to educate the public about why this is so important.

"We will continue to focus on engagement and encouraging people to be sensible and only use enforcement as a last resort.

"To me, these FPN statistics show that we have used our police powers proportionally and I hope we will continue to see very low numbers of enforcement action needed."