Police suspend £10,000 on-the-spot Covid fines with lockdown flouters hauled before court instead
POLICE chiefs have suspended the £10,000 on-the-spot fines with lockdown flouters to be hauled before courts instead.
Bosses have stopped the hefty penalties amid fears of disputes over “inequalities” in the strict Covid rules.
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The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) made the move over issues regarding those who pay up within 28 days, and others who challenge the notices in court.
In future, flouters will be given a summons demanding they appear before magistrates where they will be means tested.
This means their ability to pay is taken into account – which could see them paying less than the £10,000 fine or given more time to settle their bill.
However, in the interim the NPCC are suggesting that no-one will be slapped with £10,000 fixed notice penalties but sent straight before magistrates.
West Midlands Police's chief constable David Thompson said the force stopped handing out the fines "last week".
While David Jamieson, the region's police and crime commissioner, said the move had come about following advice being issued by the NPCC.
He has now written to policing minister Kit Malthouse for a "rapid response", claiming the Government had failed to provide the police with "workable Covid legislation".
Mr Jamieson said he also found the situation "deeply embarrassing" personally, having himself been an "enthusiastic" supporter of the introduction of tough rules.
The point I would make to the public is we will carry on enforcing this area of the law.
The force has already issued 13 of the fines, reserved for the most serious social-distancing breaches.
West Mids top cop Mr Thompson said today: "I think it's unfortunate.
"It is unhelpful this issue has arisen, but actually there is still legislation.
"The point I would make to the public is we will carry on enforcing this area of the law.
"The difference is it won't be a ticket, it will be through a summons."
FLOUT OF ORDER
It comes after cops shut down three illegal parties in one night in Merseyside this week.
While officers from West Midlands Police hit 13 people with the £10k super fines last week.
Last month students were fined £10,000 each after they were caught throwing a wild house party.
The revellers later accused community protection officers in Lenton, Nottingham, of “spoiling their fun”.
A gym owner in Wood Green, North London, has been slapped with a £67,000 fine for refusing to close to customers.
Andreas Michli, 34, was issued the penalty after cops 'staked out the business overnight' – and caught dozens of customers climbing a fence to get inside.
He could be charged with a criminal offence or even jailed if he continues to open his business.
Mr Michli said: "I am going to court to stay open. It's ridiculous, but this is what it has come to.
"How can they use anti-social behaviour laws to close us? It's daft."
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