MORE than 1,200 Covid fines have been issued by Hampshire police since the pandemic began, new figures show.

Statistics released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) show the constabulary issued 1,247 fixed penalty notices for breaches of the coronavirus regulations between March 27, 2020, and February 14 this year.

No fines have been handed out for holding a gathering of more than 30 people, but 33 fines were issued to businesses failing to adhere to regulations.

The force dished out 26 fines for flouting face covering rules and three jet setters were fined for failing to self-isolate after returning from abroad.

The majority of people were fined for breaking national and local lockdown restrictions, with 1,185 fixed penalty notices handed out.

Hampshire Constabulary have issued more than 650 fines in just over a month, with figures up until January 17 revealing that 592 fixed penalty notices had been handed out.

Nationally, a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices were issued by forces, including 63,201 in England and 5,751 in Wales.

The NPCC said steep rises in the number of tickets handed out following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions before Christmas and the latest national lockdown in England on January 4 reflected a move towards quicker enforcement by police.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “We are still in a really dangerous stage of a pandemic which has killed more than 120,000 people. Eleven months on and back into a national lockdown, the rules are really clear and so it is frustrating that we still have a small number of completely defiant and irresponsible people who have no regard for the safety of themselves or others.

“While we are still following our 4 E model of engage, explain, encourage and only using enforcement as a last resort, officers are not getting into a debate or discussion with these people about what the rules are or whether they are necessary. We all know we must wear a face covering in a shop or on a bus and we all know we can’t meet up in groups.

“We’re taking a common sense approach, applying discretion and judgement when engaging with the public. But common sense would dictate that someone having a party is well aware what they are doing is wrong and has made an informed decision to do it anyway.

“Our extra dedicated patrols across the country will continue to support those of us making significant sacrifices in following the rules by taking enforcement action against those who are not.”