MORE than 3,000 fines were issued by police in West Yorkshire for breaches of Covid-19 laws over Christmas and the start of this year, figures show – around three-quarters of all fines issued since the start of the pandemic.

Figures published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) reveal a total of 4,125 fixed penalty notices were recorded as being issued by West Yorkshire Police between March 27 last year and April 18 this year.

They include 3,064 fines after December 20 – 74 per cent of the total handed out by officers since the pandemic began. The figures also show the number of fines issued over more recent weeks, with 737 given out by officers between March 14 and April 18.

Of the fines in West Yorkshire from March 27 last year to April 18 this year there were seven for failing to wear a face covering when required, and 23 for breaching international travel rules.

There were also 25 for breaking business regulations and 31 for holding a gathering of more than 30 people. One fine was given for breaching self-isolation regulations. The remaining fines were for offences not specifically provided by the NPCC at a force level.

A number of people have recently been hit with fines at Bradford Magistrates’ Court for breaking Covid rules.

Last week, Madalina-Elena Damian, 20, of The Gatehaus, Leeds Road, was fined £1,100 for participating in an indoor gathering on November 27 last year.

Andrew David Burton, 54, of Norman Avenue, Eccleshill, was fined £362 for the same reason in relation to a gathering which took place on November 20.

Shabir Khan, 26, of Dirkhill Road, Bradford, was fined £1,760 for leaving/being outside the place he was living without reasonable excuse on November 6.

Meanwhile, Leslie Milburn Bradshaw, 66, of the Ring O Bells in Queensbury, was ordered to pay £1,760 for failing to close a public house and serving drinks indoors on November 29. 

Across England and Wales, police forces have issued 110,322 fixed penalty notices under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations. However, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has recently criticised the system, raising concerns over the validity of the fines, the inadequacy of the review and appeal process and the size of penalties.

The maximum penalty for the breach of a Covid-19 law is £10,000.
Coronavirus rules have changed at least 65 times since March 2020, providing “obvious challenges for police”, according to a report by the JCHR.

The report said: “It is astonishing that the Coronavirus Act is still being misunderstood and wrongly applied by police to such an extent that every single criminal charge brought under the Act has been brought incorrectly.”

The NPCC said it would be considering the recommendations in the JCHR report.

Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill, NPCC lead for the police response to Covid-19, said: “Policing has quickly adapted to changes in these unprecedented circumstances.When new regulations are issued, we ensure officers have additional guidance on the legislation and we continue to support them to reduce any errors in its application.

"We do recognise however that we have not got it right in every circumstance.”

He added that the NPCC would work with its criminal justice partners to rectify any errors.