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Update on the national police absence rate and Coronavirus FPNs issued by forces in England and Wales

11 Jan 2022

This release covers the enforcement and processing of Fixed Penalty Notices by police forces in England and Wales to the 19 December 2021. It also provides a snapshot of UK wide police absence, covering officers and staff.

UK Officer and Staff absence rate – 10 January 2022 snapshot

The national absence rate for officers and all staff, across all of UK policing, stands at 9.4 per cent.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Operation Talla, Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill said:
“We’re constantly monitoring absence rates across policing, which are not currently impacting on our ability to provide a normal service to the public.

“We have plans in place to manage the impact of the Omicron variant, and best use of PPE has been vital in ensuring absence rates stay within manageable levels, protecting officers when they're out and about in public.

“On behalf of all forces, I’d like to acknowledge that work and thank all officers and staff for their firm resilience and for going above and beyond in 2021, as they do every day in keeping the public safe from those who seek to cause harm.

“Forces are well rehearsed at managing periods of high demand and competing priorities, continually providing a good service to the public even when facing significant challenges. An example is the largest deployment of Mutual Aid since the 2012 Olympic Games for the recent COP-26 Climate Conference in Glasgow. Chiefs acknowledge that there is fatigue after nearly two years of the pandemic, and support is in place within forces to ensure officers and staff have access to the wellbeing resources they may need.”

Update on Coronavirus enforcement and FPNs issued by police to 19 December 2021

Police in England and Wales have processed a total of 118,963 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for breaches under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 and subsequent amendments.

The total processed in England is now 106,907 up to 19 July 2021. 12,056 were processed in Wales up to 19 December 2021.

Very limited enforcement continued in England and Wales between July and December for regulations relating to self-isolation, international travel and face coverings.

More information on restrictions still in place for England and Wales can be found here.

Fixed penalty notices relating to still active regulations have been processed for the following reasons: 

Face coverings in a relevant place

    • Since the re-introduction of face-covering Regulations in England on 30 November 2021 and up to 19 December 2021, we can provisionally confirm that seven FPNs were issued by three forces: British Transport Police, Merseyside Police and Greater Manchester Police.

International travel regulations

    • Since the last reported period, from 18 October 2021 to 19 December 2021, three FPNs were issued in England relating to international travel.
    • In total, up to 19 December 2021, 829 FPNs have been processed in England relating to international travel. 32 have been processed in Wales.
    • FPNs were mostly issued for failure to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the UK Government Quarantine list, including red list countries, among other reasons.

Self-isolation regulations

    • Between 28 September 2020 and 19 December 2021, 163 FPNs had been processed in England under the Self-Isolation Regulations.
    • 82 FPNs were issued in Wales across the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (1) to (5) relating to self-isolation requirements.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Operation Talla, Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill said:
“There are still some restrictions in place for very good reason, such as for use of face coverings and self-isolation. Everyone should be mindful of others when out and about, following public health guidance in place for everyone’s safety – this virus is still spreading fast and is still leading to tragic loss of life.

“We have observed very high compliance by the public. Officers have very rarely had to use their powers in recent months, only enforcing where there are clear breaches of the rules or people haven't responded to explanation and encouragement.”

The full breakdown of FPNs issued across all enforcement periods, by all forces, can be found within the data pack.


Notes to editors – National police officer and staff absence rate:

  • We do not provide force level breakdowns of this data.
  • At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Operation Talla, the national policing response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, stood up daily national absence reporting from forces. Early force returns had an early absence rate of around 16 per cent which quickly reduced again by April 2020.
  • We have not seen national officer and staff absence reach 10 per cent since it last did so in January 2021. This is deemed to be well within manageable levels.
  • Throughout the most part of 2020 and 2021, absence was stable between 5-6 per cent nationally. Points of increased absence worth noting were around the easing of restrictions in July 2021, where forces saw an increase to a rate of around 7.5 per cent nationally. This quickly reduced.
  • Forces have adapted and made necessary changes to working patterns within their own force resources to ensure they can meet demand from the public.
  • Workforce absence figures include all absence, not simply absence related to the Omicron Variant or Covid generally. Overall absence will include frontline and non-frontline roles, those in public facing roles and not, those ill with other health circumstances, and those isolating and caring for others.
  • A small proportion of those absences will still be able to work from home if not sick, with some adapting their role temporarily. They are counted within the absence rate as forces will have had to adapt their usual working patterns in some way to accommodate the temporary change in working arrangement for the affected individual.
  • Policing has routinely prepared for scenarios which stress test our core service to the public, this is sensible resilience and civil contingencies planning and is managed both at a force level and by the National Police Coordination Centre.
  • No requests have been received for mutual aid in relation to absence during the pandemic.

Notes to Editors – Issuance of Coronavirus Fixed Penalty Notices by forces in England and Wales:

  • Updates on enforcement during the Christmas and New Year period will be provided in a further statistical update at the beginning of March, covering enforcement to the end of February 2022.
  • In order to provide a clear national snapshot of FPNs for a reporting period, the NPCC draws from ACRO Criminal Records Office data. The totals issued in this release reflect a mix of new FPNs issued in the latest reporting period, alongside additional processing and cancellation of FPNs by ACRO for dates covered by previous releases.
  • There will always be a processing lag time between forces issuing a notice and ACRO Criminal Records Office processing. Actual force totals may therefore differ from the national totals presented in this release.
  • For information on particular incidents please contact the relevant force.
  • For Face Coverings, relevant transport providers are also empowered to issue Fixed Penalty Notices within these Regulations. Our provisional figures only include enforcement by police forces, and this release will improve with the next release of statistics as processing occurs.
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 (England) and subsequent Amendments were revoked on 19 July 2021. Totals in this release relating to these Regulations account for all processing and recording held by ACRO up to 19 December 2021 – it does not mean new notices were issued since the regulations were revoked.
  • Regulations are still in effect in Wales, with an Alert Level system in place. Regulations in England and Wales relating to International Travel, Face Coverings, Businesses and Self-Isolation continue/d to apply to varying and changing degrees since 19 July 2021. Enforcement notices will have been processed by ACRO for any breaches relating to these Regulations since 19 July 2021. Please consider this when reporting.
  • On the 17 May 2021, the International Travel regulations in England were revoked and replaced by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021. Reporting in this release covers all FPNs issued for breaches relating to international travel. It does not include notices issued by Border Force.
  • Payment of FPNs: We have committed to publishing information on payments at a later date and will be providing an update on this shortly. 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.