BAME people 4.4 times more likely to have been fined during lockdown
Police are reviewing their use of lockdown fines as figures showed that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people were 4.4 times more likely than white people to be penalised in Suffolk.
A national study found that BAME people were 1.6 times more likely than white people to receive a fixed penalty notice (FPN) on average across the country.
In Suffolk, the disparity rate was 3.8 times for black people, 2.4 for Asian people, 4.3 for people of mixed heritage and 9.7 for people of any other ethnic group.
Data published by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), covering March 27 to May 25, showed the number of FPNs issued in Suffolk (259) was equivalent to 2.9 per 10,000 people, compared to 2.5 nationally.
The number of FPNs issued to people of BAME backgrounds was 49 – of which 14 went to those with addresses outside the county.
Police guidance made clear that enforcement was to be used as a last resort, when attempts to engage, explain and encourage compliance were unsuccessful.
Information about regulations and enforcement was produced in eight different languages.
Suffolk police received 4,713 reports (79 a day) of regulation breaches, but issued an average of less than five FPNs a day.
A spokesman said it illustrated how sparingly fines were issued, and that enforcement was used only as a last resort, but added: “The constabulary made strenuous efforts to get people to abide by the restrictions through community engagement and using different channels. However, a very small minority of people failed to comprehend the danger to themselves and their wider community of contracting Covid-19.
“We are currently reviewing if there was anything further we could have done to have avoided issuing fines in communities which were at risk of being disproportionally affected by Covid-19.”
Figures showed variation across areas, with the disparity rate ranging up to 6.5 in Cumbria.
The NPCC said disproportionality could have resulted from uneven enforcement of regulations across different population sub-groups, or from “fair application of regulations when sub-groups differ in their observance of the regulations”.
The NPCC said it was working to develop a plan of action to address issues of inclusion and equality that exist in policing.
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