MORE than 2,000 fines were issued by police in Hampshire for breaches of Covid-19 laws over Christmas and the start of this year, figures show – more than three-quarters of all fines issued since the start of the pandemic.

But the approach by police has been called into question by MPs and peers who, in calling for a review, have described the fines as “muddled, discriminatory and unfair”.

In a report, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said the Coronavirus Act had been misunderstood and wrongly applied by police.

Figures published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council reveal a total of 2,568 fixed penalty notices were recorded as being issued by Hampshire Constabulary between March 27 last year and April 18 this year.

They include 2,001 fines after December 20 – 78% of the total handed out by officers since the pandemic began.

The figures also show the number of fines issued over more recent weeks, with 522 given out by officers between March 14 and April 18.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Across England and Wales, police forces have issued 110,322 fixed penalty notices under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations.

However, the JCHR has criticised the system, raising concerns over the validity of the fines, the inadequacy of the review and appeal process and the size of penalties.

The maximum penalty for the breach of a Covid-19 law is £10,000.

Harriet Harman, JCHR chair, said: “The police have had a difficult job in policing the pandemic. However, since January there have been greater numbers of FPNs as police move more quickly to enforcement action.”

Coronavirus rules have changed at least 65 times since March 2020, providing “obvious challenges for police”, according to a report by the JCHR.

Of the fines in Hampshire from March 27 last year to April 18 this year there were 30 for failing to wear a face covering when required, and 10 for breaching international travel rules.

Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill, NPCC lead for the police response to Covid-19, said: “Policing has quickly adapted to changes in these unprecedented circumstances.

“When new regulations are issued, we ensure officers have additional guidance on the legislation and we continue to support them to reduce any errors in its application.

“We do recognise however that we have not got it right in every circumstance.”