BAME community ‘four times more likely than white people’ to be fined during lockdown - police review cases
Suffolk police has said all fines issued for lockdown breaches have been reviewed to ensure enforcement was fair after analysis showed BAME people were four times more likely to be penalised than white people.
Analysis by Liberty and The Guardian showed black, Asian and minority ethnic people were 54% more likely to be fined for breaching lockdown regulations across the country.
Suffolk was among 25 forces to provide data in response to Freedom of Information requests regarding fixed penalty notices issued during lockdown.
Eighteen forces showed ethnic disproportionality, while six were discounted for statistical insignificance.
Analysis by Liberty Investigates and The Guardian, using the general population as a comparator, showed BAME people were 4.1 times more likely to be fined than white people in Suffolk.
Of 285 fines dispensed across Suffolk between the start of lockdown and the middle of May, 38 were given to BAME people – 32 of which were handed out in Ipswich and nine of which were given to people from outside the county.
Suffolk Constabulary said it was committed to dealing fairly with all sections of the community and that all fines had been reviewed to ensure action was proportionate and in line with national guidance.
In all interactions, before issuing fines, officers engaged, explained and encouraged before using enforcement as a last resort, the force said, adding that tickets issued to BAME people were broadly in line with the diversity of communities in which the breaches were recorded.
Assistant Chief Constable David Cutler said: “Anything that shows levels of disproportionality makes us want to look hard at those figures and understand them.
“When talking in small numbers, it can provide statistics that look out of place and make it difficult for detailed analysis.
“What I can say is that we have consistently engaged, explained and encouraged, and made it clear to officers that enforcement is an option only if others are not working.”
Mr Cutler said the force was not complacent, and that engagement with diverse communities and its relationship with organisations like the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality enabled constant improvement in interactions with BAME people.
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