An independent review of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued by UK police forces during the Coronavirus pandemic has been published today (Monday 27 July 2020).
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) issued 305 FPNs in total; representing a ratio of one notice for every 9,180 people living in Greater Manchester.
The number of fines issued across the country varied significantly, with GMP found to have one of the lowest rates per population. This is reflective of the force’s emphasis on engaging with the public, explaining the guidelines and encouraging people to comply before using enforcement only as a last resort.
Each interaction that officers had in regard to potential COVID breaches was recorded and, of the 2,591 interactions, police officers chose to use their discretion and not issue an FPN in 88% of cases. The vast majority of the notices given were issued during the strict lockdown period where restriction of movement had been contravened so there has since been a sharp reduction in the number of FPNs issued since the relaxation of the Covid guidelines. The last FPN issued by GMP was on 27 May 2020.
Like in other areas of the country, the analysis of figures in Greater Manchester showed disparities across gender, age and ethnicity. Two hundred and sixty one of the total FPNs given (85.5%) were issued to males. Young men and women are also significantly over represented, with those aged 18-24 making up 48% of the total number of FPNs given.
The rate of FPNs issued to people self-identifying as being from a BAME background sits at around 1.8 per 10,000 population in our force area, as opposed to 1 per 10,000 population for those who identify as white. In total 143 notices were issued to people self-identifying from a BAME background; however 41 of these (28%) were issued to visitors from outside Greater Manchester.
Although the overall figures show some disproportionality at force-wide level, closer analysis of the data shows that at a very local level the number of FPNs issued more closely reflects the resident population in the areas that the notices were given.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We welcome the publishing of this report and the opportunity to review our approach to ensuring compliance with the coronavirus legislation throughout the pandemic so far.
“We police by consent in Greater Manchester so it is important to us that we are able to take stock of the findings of this report before considering what we can do to improve the service we provide to the public. I want to assure the public that we will not be complacent and any disparity that has been highlighted will be examined to see if any changes to our approach are needed.
“I believe the low rate of FPNs issued in Greater Manchester is reflective of our commitment to engaging with the public first and only using enforcement as a last resort.
“A large number of the FPNs issued were done so during the lockdown period when the weather improved, which notably saw more house parties and other large gatherings taking place, thereby resulting in more notices being issued. One particular incident in May saw officers called to a large party at an Air BnB in Shudehill where 16 FPNs were issued.
“A number of the FPNs were also issued during targeted operations that took place during the Covid pandemic. Working with partners, GMP ran two policing operations in the City of Manchester to tackle anti-social behaviour which had an impact on the number of notices issued.
“In addition to outlining the police approach to enforcement, these figures also show that the people of Greater Manchester have been overwhelmingly compliant with the guidelines and I think that should be acknowledged. The support for the work of the emergency services has been crucial for us throughout this pandemic and I want to thank the public for that.”