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More Fixed Penalty Notices issued since national Coronavirus restrictions were reintroduced, with crime 9 per cent lower than last year

30 Nov 2020

Provisional data from police forces in England and Wales shows police recorded crime is nine per cent lower than in the same period as 2019. Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) given to the public for breaches of Coronavirus Regulations rose as national restrictions were implemented in England.

Preliminary figures released today on police recorded crime provided to the National Police Chiefs’ Council from forces in England and Wales show an overall fall of nine per cent in the month of October, compared to the same period last year.

As police observed in April and May, crime fell as national restrictions were imposed both in Wales and England. Owing to the differences in how national lockdowns were applied, in addition to the differing date periods and larger number of regulations in place overall, the fall is not as steep as the one observed for the first peak of the pandemic.

For the most recent recorded snapshot, for the four weeks to 25 October, serious violent crime, including Grievous Bodily Harm, Actual Bodily Harm and personal robbery reduced by 18 per cent, shoplifting was down 26 per cent, vehicle crime fell by 18 per cent and residential burglary was down by 23 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Throughout the pandemic, use of technology has boomed, with individuals using online solutions to purchase, access and make use of goods and services more than ever before. Police, government and retailers have all been keen to ensure the public know how to stay safe online.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair, Martin Hewitt said:

“As many shoppers take to online platforms for the festive period, I’d like to remind the public to take extra care when making purchases for loved ones and using online services. Advice on how to keep yourself safe online is available online on the Action Fraud website: (www.actionfraud.police.uk)

“Crime is lower than at the same point last year, however the demand on the police service remains significant. Particularly during the month of December, officers and police staff will be working hard to tackle crime, keep communities safe, and play our part in reducing the spread of Coronavirus.

“We encourage the public to follow the rules in place for their part of the country, and to remain vigilant as shops begin to open again in time for Christmas as criminals may seek to exploit opportunities to commit crime.”

Speaking about the 15 per cent increase in assaults against emergency service workers reported in this snapshot, Mr Hewitt added:

“Assaults on emergency workers who do crucial work for the good of us all are deplorable. This is an offence and those caught will be prosecuted with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service. Officers and staff are out in communities, working in challenging circumstances, and I am grateful for their continued hard work.”

Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued by territorial forces in England and Wales

In total, 24,933 FPNs have been recorded as having been issued in England and Wales under Coronavirus Regulations between Friday 27 March and Monday 16 November. In England 21,911, were issued, and 3,022 in Wales.

80 per cent of all Coronavirus notices issued in England and Wales were given to those aged between 18-39.

For this period, the breakdown is as follows:

Localised restrictions

  • Figures show that 2,160 FPNs were processed by ACRO under the first Alert Levels tiers in England, with 477 given for Tier 1 (Medium), 1,004 for Tier 2 (High), and 679 for Tier 3 (Very High).
  • 1,977 notices have been processed by ACRO under the Coronavirus No.4 Regulations. These Regulations cover the English national lockdown which commenced on 5 November.
  • 180 notices have been processed by ACRO under the Coronavirus No.3 (Wales) Regulations, which covered the Welsh national lockdown, ending on 9 November.

Large Gatherings

  • 133 FPNs have been issued relating to holding a gathering of more than thirty people in England, and three in Wales.
  • These include but are not limited to unlicensed music events, protests and private parties, and carry a £10,000 penalty.

Face Coverings

  • 641 FPNs were issued between 15 June and 16 November for breaches of the Face Coverings Regulations across England and Wales. 
  • 169 of these fines were issued against the regulations concerning wearing a face covering on public transport, across twelve forces (including British Transport Police in England and Wales).
  • 472 fines were issued against regulations concerning the wearing a face covering in a relevant place, such as a retail setting, across thirty-two forces (including British Transport Police in England and Wales).

Regulations relating to businesses

As of 18 September 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect.

On the 24th September 2020, the following regulations also came into effect for businesses: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Collection of Contact Details etc and Related Requirements) Regulations 2020, and The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) Regulations 2020

  • 181 FPNs were issued across twenty-six forces in England.
  • The main reasons for the issuance of an FPN included: Businesses not enforcing face covering regulations; businesses refusing to close during the emergency period or refusing to close during restricted hours, gatherings of more than the restricted number taking place within a business; businesses not adhering to the table service only rules.

International Travel Regulations

Up to 24 November under the International Travel Regulations: 

  • 7,040 cases investigated by officers found an individual to be complying with the regulations, with no further action being necessary.
  • 416 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.
  • 586 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.
  • 862 cases resulted in no answer at all when officers attended an address, with no further enforcement action possible.
  • Processing by ACRO up to the 16 November shows that 223 FPNs were issued by police forces in England to those failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the UK Government Quarantine list.

Martin Hewitt said:

“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. Police will play their part to help the public navigate and understand changes in their area, particularly as we approach the festive period.

“The national lockdown periods in England and Wales have seen increased enforcement activity by forces, targeted towards those who commit the most serious breaches, risking public health.

“Enforcement doesn’t and shouldn’t always equal police involvement or the issuance of a fixed penalty notice. Individuals, businesses and a range of agencies all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed.

“We cannot waste time endlessly encouraging those still intent on breaking the rules after nine months of this pandemic, and they should expect to see officers move more quickly towards issuing FPNs where it is appropriate.” 

Crime trends data pack (Ending 25 October 2020) - download here

FPN data pack (Ending Monday 16 November 2020) - download here

 

Notes to Editors: 

Crime trends data:

Previous reporting showed:

  • a 28 per cent reduction in recorded crime for the four weeks to 12 April compared to 2019;
  • 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 weeks to 5 July;
  • a 7 per cent fall in recorded crime for the four weeks to 2 August;
  • a 3 per cent fall in the four weeks to 30 August;
  • a 6 per cent fall in the four weeks to 27 September.

Falls in this snapshot were recorded for particular offences, such as: residential burglary (-23 per cent), vehicle crime including theft of and from a vehicle (-18 per cent), Grievous Bodily Harm, Actual Bodily Harm and personal robbery (-18 per cent), and shoplifting (-26 per cent). Forces have also continued to observe decreases compared to last year for 101 call volumes (-11 per cent) and 999 volumes (-13 per cent).

Officer and staff absence levels:
Forces continue to benefit from a low officer and staff absence figure of 6.7 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.

Overall data on FPNs issued for newly implemented Regulations will be affected by a processing lag time between forces issuing a notice and ACRO processing it. Actual force totals may therefore differ from the national totals presented in this release, and as with all releases to date. Updated totals will be reflected in future releases as processing continues.

We have not included data on the scaling of notices based on repeat offending. This can be sought directly from individual forces.

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.

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.

Due to data coming from multiple sources for this Regulation’s reporting, we have provided FPN data in line with the date period covered by this release, as processed by ACRO. Force engagement and activity data is the most up to date figure available, provided to us through the National Police Coordination Centre.

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

On 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.

National Restrictions and Alert Levels in England:
Please contact forces for further information on their local enforcement activity. Overall data on FPNs issued will be affected by a processing lag time between forces issuing a notice and ACRO processing it.

On Self-Isolation Regulations:
Due to the additional processing work which is necessary between policing and relevant criminal justice partners for the fulfilment of notices issued under this regulation, we are not in a position to publish national figures until the next statistical release.

Payment of FPNs:
The NPCC will provide more thorough analysis of payment of FPN data at a future date. We previously provided indicative data relating to the Coronavirus No. 1 Regulation notices, which had all completed their 28 day payment periods. 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.

Advice was given to forces on 13 November, requesting that notices issued for large gatherings of over thirty people (resulting in a £10,000 FPN) should be dealt with by Summons instead of through the issuance of an FPN. This advice was revoked on 17 November as a resolution was quickly found relating to a discrepancy in the information provided to offenders. Forces should now be issuing these notices again in the normal way, wherever appropriate.

Notwithstanding the processing lag time which applies for all ACRO processing of notices – we are unable to provide force level data for how many cases were enforced via Summons during this period. Forces will be able to respond to queries about enforcement activity for their area.