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Coronavirus breaches in Suffolk see 496 fines handed out since March lockdown, according to National Police Chiefs' Council




Coronavirus rule-breakers in Suffolk have been handed almost 500 fines since the first lockdown, figures have shown.

Data published by the National Police Chiefs' Council shows a total of 496 fixed penalty notices were issued by the county's police between March 27, 2020 and January 17 this year.

The largest amount of fines were handed out in Suffolk during the first sets of regulations in spring and summer last year - with 262 having been issued in this period.

Police in Suffolk have issued 496 fines since the beginning of the first coronavirus lockdown
Police in Suffolk have issued 496 fines since the beginning of the first coronavirus lockdown

After Boris Johnson, the prime minister, announced the three-tier system in October, Suffolk was classed as 'medium risk' and placed into tier 1.

This meant different households could mix indoors - but only in groups of six - and all pubs, restaurants, gyms and shops were allowed to remain open.

During this time, only one fine was handed out in the county for breaking the rules.

Police officers on patrol at a park as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19
Police officers on patrol at a park as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19

But the second lockdown, which lasted the entire month of November, saw 39 fines issued.

After the November lockdown, tiers were again introduced, with Suffolk placed into the 'high risk' tier 2.

But after the number of cases began to rocket in the county, it was moved into tier 4 from Boxing Day, meaning residents were ordered to stay at home.

The tier regulations, which covered the Christmas period and the first half of the January lockdown, saw a total of 185 fines given out in Suffolk, with almost 11,000 having been issued across the country.

Chief Superintendent Kim Warner said he makes 'no apology' for officers asking questions
Chief Superintendent Kim Warner said he makes 'no apology' for officers asking questions

Since the start of lockdown, no fines have been issued for gatherings of more than 30 people in Suffolk, while only four have been handed out for breaking the mandatory face-covering rule.

And five fines have been issued by Suffolk Police to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the government quarantine list.

No fixed penalty notices have been handed to businesses in Suffolk for breaches of regulations that came into force in September, including failure to enforce face-covering and social distancing regulations and unlawfully staying open.

In England and Wales, 42,675 fines were handed out by 43 territorial forces, the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police over the 10 month period.

In England alone, 6,760 notices were issued to rule-breakers in tier 4 areas, just over 1,000 of which were during the January lockdown.

The majority of people handed fines were aged between 18 and 24, with more men having been punished for breaking the rules than women.

Speaking in January, Chief Superintendent Kim Warner, of Suffolk Police, said: "I make no apology for our officers who will be asking questions and will be inquisitive about why individuals may be out of their homes," he said.

"I cannot be clearer, those who are blatantly ignoring the restrictions will be given a fine as their actions are putting others at risk through their behaviour.

"Enforcement will be carried out when required and will be proportionate, but officers will not waste time endlessly encouraging those who commit the most serious breaches."

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk