Police can issue £10k Covid ‘super fines’ again amid fears of court challenges

Police forces can return to handing out £10,000 "super fines" to lockdown rule-breakers after an apparent U-turn.

Confusion mounted after the penalties for people who broke the rules on gatherings were briefly suspended by police chiefs in England and Wales last Friday.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) reportedly issued guidance recommending officers issue court summons instead of a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

This was because of the potential disparity in punishment between people who accept the notice compared to those who challenged them in court.

The fines are means-tested in court, meaning people can end up paying a lot less than those who accept the FPN and agree to hand over the full amount within 28 days.

But the fact the fines – introduced in September to punish organisers of raves and other mass gatherings of more than 30 people – had been halted only emerged on Tuesday.

Labour's West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson blasted the situation as "deeply embarrassing".

He accused the Government of failing to provide the police with "workable Covid legislation".

The NPCC said in a statement on Tuesday it was "working urgently" with ministers to solve the issue.

  • Coronavirus death toll in UK rises by 598 in biggest jump since May

Within two hours, the Home Office said it anticipated all forces would start handing out super-fines again by Wednesday.

The Home Office said it was "working with forces to ensure people are fully aware of their options when faced with a fixed penalty notice".

A spokesman added: "If someone chooses not to pay their fixed penalty notice, the matter may be considered by a court and the individual could be subject to a criminal conviction."

The NPCC said it had resolved the issue by agreeing anyone issued with the super fine notice will be made fully aware of the right to fight it in court "to ensure fairness".

West Midlands' chief constable David Thompson, the NPCC’s finance lead, said it was the £10,000 amount that had sparked concern among police bosses.

He said the force had employed a "very tight policy" around issuing the "substantial" super-fines, with 13 handed out so far.

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