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Update on national Crime Trends, and Fixed Penalty Notices issued under Covid Regulations

08 Jan 2021

Provisional data from police forces in England and Wales shows police recorded crime is twelve 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 twelve per cent in the month of November, 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 22 November, serious violent crime, including Grievous Bodily Harm, Actual Bodily Harm and personal robbery reduced by 20 per cent, shoplifting was down 32 per cent, vehicle crime fell by 22 per cent and residential burglary was down by 23 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair, Martin Hewitt said:

“Crime remains lower than at the same point last year, however the demand on the police service is significant. Today’s release of statistics confirms the correlation of lower crime levels during periods of national lockdown.

“We encourage the public to follow the rules in place to limit the spread of the virus. We know that during this pandemic, cyber-crime has increased, and we continue to urge everyone to take measures to protect themselves online as criminals seek to exploit opportunities whilst communities go online during this new national lockdown. More information can be found on Action Fraud’s website:

Speaking about the continued rise of assaults against emergency service workers reported within this snapshot, Mr Hewitt added:

“Assaults on emergency workers who do crucial work to keep the public safe are deplorable. This is an offence and those caught will be prosecuted. Workers are out in communities, working in very 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, 32,329 FPNs have been recorded as having been issued in England and Wales under Coronavirus Regulations between Friday 27 March and Monday 21 December. In England 28,744, were issued, and 3,585 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 2,936 FPNs were processed by the ACRO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) under the first Alert Levels tiers in England, with 500 given for Tier 1 (Medium), 1,737 for Tier 2 (High), and 699 for Tier 3 (Very High).
  • 6,475 notices have been processed by ACRO under the Coronavirus No.4 Regulations. These Regulations cover the English national lockdown which commenced on 5 November.
  • 274 notices have been processed by ACRO under the Coronavirus No.3 (Wales) Regulations, which covered the Welsh national lockdown, ending on 9 November.
  • 1,557 notices have been processed under the new All Tier Regulations since December 2 2020. Eight were issued for Tier 1 (Medium), 474 for Tier 2 (High), 1,075 for Tier 3 (Very High). There is no data in this release relating to Tier 4 of the All Tier Regulations.

Large Gatherings

  • 196 FPNs have been issued 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.

Face Coverings

  • 958 FPNs were issued between 15 June and 21 December for breaches of the Face Coverings Regulations across England and Wales. 
  • 199 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).
  • 759 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. Businesses are also affected by parts of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All tiers) (England) Regulations 2020.

  • 306 FPNs were issued across twenty-nine 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 21 December under the International Travel Regulations: 

  • Processing by ACRO up to the 21 December shows that 287 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.
  • There is still a very high degree of compliance with these regulations

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. It is vital that everyone continues to take personal responsibility by staying home unless they have a valid reason not to be there. I understand that this is not an easy request to be making but as we return to national restrictions, everyone must play their part in protecting the NHS and saving lives.

“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, particularly now as we again see increased pressure on the health service. We will continue to engage with people proportionately, fairly and using common sense, taking our well-established 4Es approach. We have produced guidance for forces in line with the new national measures in England which reinforces this approach.

“It is right for officers to be inquisitive about why individuals may be away from home. Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice and we’ll target our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.”

Crime trends data pack (Ending 22 November 2020)

FPN data pack (Ending 21 December 2020)

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;
  • a 9 per cent fall in the four weeks to 25 October.

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 (-22 per cent), Grievous Bodily Harm, Actual Bodily Harm and personal robbery (-20 per cent), and shoplifting (-32 per cent). Forces have also continued to observe decreases compared to last year for 101 call volumes (-11 per cent) and 999 volumes (-12 per cent).

Officer and staff absence levels:
Forces continue to benefit from a low officer and staff absence figure of 8 per cent across the UK. Chief Constables are monitoring this closely alongside recent increases in infection across the country. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available to officers and staff for their protection whilst on duty, and there is a good supply of stock across the country.

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.

Due to the Christmas and New Year break, wider statistical collection was not possible, so we are not able to report figures showing the number of proactive engagement and activity made by police forces, and their outcomes up to and including the third E (Engage, Explain and Encourage). We have provided the total for enforcement as processed by ACRO.

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.

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 (All Tiers and Alert Tiers) 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.

This release covers a snapshot before the introduction of Tier 4 All Tier measures in England, and will not cover the holiday period. This will come in our next update.

On Self-Isolation Regulations:
Due to 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 this processing work concludes.

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 or payment proportions for Regulations which still have payment periods outstanding.

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.