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Crime is close to pre-lockdown levels, and fines given to the public rise as new regulations introduced

30 Sep 2020

Provisional data from police forces in England and Wales shows police recorded crime is three per cent lower than in the same period as 2019. Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) given to the public for breaches of Coronavirus Regulations are also rising again.

Snapshot figures released today based on preliminary police recorded crime provided to the National Police Chiefs’ Council from 43 forces in England and Wales (excluding fraud, which is recorded by centrally by Action Fraud) cover the four weeks to 30 August compared with the same period in 2019. 

This is the sixth crime trends update since the beginning of Coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions across England and Wales and indicates crime trends have returned close to pre-lockdown levels after a 28 per cent reduction at the height of lockdown.   

Mental health incidents were up five per cent in this reporting period, reflecting an increasing trend observed by most forces in the last few months. Forces recognise the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health and they continue to work very closely with local authorities, health providers and charities to ensure support is available for those who need it. 

Assaults on emergency service workers saw a concerning 29 per cent rise compared to the same period last year. This is a snapshot of an offence type which is typically recorded in low volumes - data may therefore fluctuate between snapshots. The rise in assaults is largely due to increases in assaults without injury, which may be driven by scenarios such as common assault on staff.

Reported rape saw a four per cent rise, and recorded domestic abuse incidents increased by seven per cent over the snapshot period compared to the same period in 2019. Overall however, domestic abuse incidents have remained relatively stable through 2020 with observable increases above 2019 levels reported around bank holiday weekends.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair, Martin Hewitt said:

"Police are busy tackling and preventing crime, and providing a policing service to their communities, while continuing to play their part in the national effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. We have returned to pre-lockdown levels of demand. I’d like to thank all officers and staff who continue to give their best every day, in challenging circumstances, in order to keep communities safe.

"Chief Constables will be assessing the threats and risks in their local areas, alongside the national and local Covid-19 restrictions in place, and will be resourcing their patrols and responses accordingly.

As we’ve shockingly seen throughout the pandemic, there continues to be a concerning rise in assaults against emergency service workers. We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line.”

Fixed penalty notices issued by territorial forces in England and Wales

In total, 18,912 FPNs have been recorded as having been issued in England and Wales under Coronavirus Regulations between Friday 27 March and Monday 21 September. In England 16,240 were issued, and in Wales 2,672. For this snapshot, the breakdown is as follows:

In the last four week period, 147 FPNs were issued by forces in England under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations, and localised restrictions.

Four FPNs were issued by forces in Wales in the last four weeks. Two under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations, and two under Face Coverings Regulations.

Localised restrictions

  • A total of 179 FPNs have been issued by police forces for all localised restrictions in England since their implementation, up to the 21 September.
  • 128 were issued in Greater Manchester, 26 in Lancashire and 25 in Leicester.
  • No FPNs were issued in Wales for local lockdown restrictions up to the end of this reporting period.

Large Gatherings

  • 18 FPNs have been issued under regulations relating to holding a gathering of more than thirty people in England, and two in Wales. These include but are not limited to unlicensed music events, protests and private parties, and carry a £10,000 penalty.
  • 15 FPNs were issued under the new ‘Rule of Six’ in England, effective from Monday 14 September. As the ‘Rule of Six’ was still in its first week at the time of this data snapshot, there may be a processing lag compared with force level data.
  • The following forces have issued FPNs relating to the Rule of Six:  Four were given by Greater Manchester Police; seven by Lancashire Police; two by Leicestershire Police; and two by West Yorkshire Police.

Face Coverings

  • 89 fines were issued between 15 June and 21 September for breaches of the Face Coverings Regulations across England and Wales.
  • 61 of these fines were issued against the regulations concerning wearing a face covering on public transport.
  • 28 fines were issued against regulations concerning the wearing a face covering in a relevant place, such as a retail setting.

International Travel Quarantine

Up to 22 September, 4,114 case referrals from public health authorities were accepted by territorial forces relating to the isolation status of a member of the public following travel, under the International Travel Regulations. 

  • 3,216 cases investigated by officers found the individual to be complying with the regulations, with no further action being necessary.
  • 218 cases found a person to be in breach of the regulation, but no further action was necessary as they were successfully encouraged to self-isolate using the 4-Es approach.
  • 240 cases saw officers attend an address only to find that nobody with the relevant name lived at that address so no further enforcement action could be taken.
  • 440 cases resulted in no answer at all when officers attended an address, with no further enforcement action possible.
  • 38 fines were issued to those failing to self-isolate after arriving in England from a country on the UK Government Quarantine list, issued across 14 forces. This only reflects fines issued by territorial police forces and does not include those from UK Border Force.

College of Policing guidance states that where police are unable to get an answer following a visit to an address, then additional follow-up visits are suggested. If there is still no answer, the times and dates of the visits should be recorded and fed back to Border Force via the triage centre.

Martin Hewitt said:

“It is crucial that people do everything they can, including limiting social contact, to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. The country is at a critical point, and personal choices will matter in the weeks and months to come.

“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.”

Payment of fines

Further to the correspondence sent by the Attorney General to the Justice Select Committee, the NPCC can confirm that up to 22 September 2020:

18,646 enforcement letters for payment within 28 days were sent by ACRO

  • 15,982 were sent on behalf of forces in England
  • 2,664 were sent on behalf of forces in Wales

9,428 have paid a Fixed Penalty Notice in response to the enforcement letter sent

  • 7,706 have paid in England
  • 1,722 have paid in Wales

9,413 have not paid and therefore fall to be considered for prosecution

  • 8,441 have not paid in England, failing compliance or formally contesting their FPN
  • 972 have not paid in Wales, failing compliance or formally contesting their FPN

Martin Hewitt added:

“Coronavirus is something we have all had to rapidly adapt to, and officers have had to pick up new regulations in a record pace, and apply them across the population. The number of instances where enforcement action is necessary at all is a fraction of the total engagement we have had with the public.

“Enforcement doesn’t and shouldn’t always equal police involvement. Individuals, businesses and a range of agencies all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed, and police will continue to play their part.”

Crime trends data pack (Ending 30 August 2020) download

FPN data pack (Ending 21 September 2020) download

Force level totals of FPN data download

Face coverings and international travel FPN data download



Crime trends data:
Previous reporting showed a 28 per cent reduction for the four weeks to 12 April, a 25 per cent fall for the four weeks to 10 May, an 18 per cent fall for the four weeks to 7 June, a 12 percent fall for the four week to 5 July, and a 7 per cent fall in recorded crime for the four weeks to 2 August.

Falls in this snapshot were recorded for particular offences, such as: residential burglary (-18 per cent), vehicle crime including theft of and from a vehicle (-23 per cent), Grievous Bodily Harm, Actual Bodily Harm and personal robbery (-4 per cent), and shoplifting (-30 per cent). Forces have also continued to observe decreases compared to last year for 101 call volumes (-3 per cent), whereas 999 volumes were in line with the same snapshot period in 2019.

Officer and staff absence levels:
Forces continue to benefit from a low officer and staff absence figure of 5.6 per cent across the UK. Chief Constables are monitoring this closely alongside recent increases in infection across the country and personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available to officers and staff for their protection whilst on duty.

Understanding the FPN data:
In order to provide a clear national snapshot of FPNs for a reporting period, the NPCC draws from ACRO data. The NPCC only provides FPN data that has been submitted by forces and then processed by ACRO.

The updated totals issued in this release reflect a mix of new FPNs issued in the latest reporting period, alongside additional processing and cancellation by ACRO for dates covered by previous releases.

The total given for FNPs issued in the last four week period in England includes processing of FPNs by ACRO within the last month for FPNs issued prior to the four week period. Therefore there may be fines included which were issued under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.1) Regulations, which are no longer in effect.

Overall data on FPNs issued for newly implemented Regulations may be affected by a processing lag time between forces and ACRO as these are still new within our snapshot. Actual force totals may therefore differ from the national totals presented, and will be reflected in future releases as processing continues.

On this occasion we have not included data on the scaling of (No. 1) and (No. 2) Regulation notices based on repeat offending, due to the smaller volumes of FPNs issued by forces compared to the first peak of the pandemic.

On International Travel Quarantine:
The police will only become involved once they receive a referral from UK Border Force via their triage centre and support is requested, or following intelligence brought to police attention. Border Force are also issuing their own data on fines given – their figures are not included as part of today’s data release.

For any questions about penalties issued at the Border, triage centres, and information concerning the Passenger Locator Form, please contact Border Force.

Face Coverings:
Given that police enforcement is a last resort option, NPCC data won’t cover the breadth of circumstances where someone has been refused travel or access to a restricted setting, as police wouldn’t have been called in the vast majority of those cases. Prior to police involvement, transport staff will use their discretion and may even prevent passengers in breach from travelling, with many individuals simply ending their journey or proceeding to wear a face covering at that point.

These are matters which will be resolved by staff in the first instance within retail settings, and businesses, local authorities and licensing authorities will have responsibility for ensuring premises are compliant and Covid-Safe

Local Lockdowns:
Please contact locally affected forces for further information on their enforcement activity.

Payment of FPNs:
The NPCC will provide more thorough analysis of payment of FPN data at a future date. At this stage we are unable to provide individual force totals.

If an FPN is contested or not complied with within the 28 day payment period, the case becomes a matter for HM Courts and Tribunals Service following a force level review.