30 Sep Coronavirus: 400 travellers escaped fines for not quarantining | UK News
More than 400 travellers who should be quarantining under COVID-19 laws have so far escaped fines because police didn’t find them at home, it has been revealed.
Police chiefs say officers were asked to investigate more than 4,000 cases referred to them by health authorities.
Most were complying with self-isolation requirements and others were persuaded to do so, but at 440 addresses police got no answer when they called and, say police chiefs, “no further enforcement action (was) possible”.
At 240 of the addresses police visited they found no record of the people they targeted living there.
Only 38 UK travellers have been fined by police after returning from countries such as Spain and France, which are on the Government’s quarantine list. Others may have been given fixed penalty notices by UK Border Force.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said: “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.”
NPCC chairman 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.
“It has proven to be the case that most people will be responsible and will accept that personal responsibility but there has to be a proportionate response and as I said, we’re at a position now where police forces are busy doing their normal jobs, there is not the capacity to get into a manhunt.
“It was never designed to be 100% when everyone comes in they were meant to be checked, there’s a percentage that will be checked.
“Our responsibility is to do the check and we have given some tickets or where we are unable to get an answer we feed that back to the triage centre that is run by Border Force and it’s their responsibility to take it on.
“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.”
Travellers returning from countries on the quarantine list can be fined £1,000 and up to £3,200 for repeat flouting of the law.
The NPCC also revealed that 15 people were fined in the first week of the new “rule of six” law which limits gatherings.
The law came into force on 14 September, but a lag in data collection may mean the figure is higher. First-time offenders are now fined £200.
In the past month police have issued 18 fines over gatherings of more than 30 people at events such as music performances, protests and private parties. Flouting that new law carries a fine of £10,000.
Police chiefs also revealed that crime is almost back to 2019 levels after falling dramatically at the height of the pandemic lockdown.
Assaults on emergency service workers, police – fire and health staff – shot up by 29% in the past year, according to new figures for England and Wales
Domestic abuse rose 7%, rape went up by 4% and mental health incidents were 5% higher compared with figures for August last year.
Overall recorded crime is 3% below last year’s level after falling by 28% during lockdown.
Mr 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.”