Britain’s biggest police force is handing out a record 300 penalties a day – with more Covid rule breakers fined in the past few weeks than in the first nine months of the pandemic.
Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House yesterday revealed the extent of the crackdown as it emerged that officers are doling out 66 times more fines every day than during the first lockdown.
When the restrictions were first announced, the Metropolitan Police dished out 4.5 fines a day on average between March 27 and April 13.
In comparison, more than 300 people a day are now getting fixed penalty notices, with almost 4,000 penalties handed out so far in London.
Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House yesterday revealed the extent of the crackdown as it emerged that officers are doling out 66 times more fines every day than during the first lockdown. Pictured: Police in Clapham Common, London
Around 200 youngsters took part in a snowball fight in Hyde Park, Leeds, on Thursday afternoon
Sir Steve said officers were ‘accelerating more quickly’ to enforcement rather than listening to excuses from Covid rule breakers this time around.
‘We have seen a significant increase in the amount of fixed penalty notices that were issued,’ he said. ‘The number is increasing quite rapidly day on day. I wish it weren’t so. I wish everybody was abiding by the regulations.’
Between March 27 and December 20, the force handed out 1,761 penalties for breaking the rules, including for being outside home without a reasonable excuse, not wearing a mask or organising a mass gathering.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has told police they can question people if they find them sitting on park benches.
Witnesses said the scenes showed a ‘blatant disregard’ for the strain the NHS is under. Liam Ford shot a brief video of the scene on a walk with his girlfriend (pictured)
Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has ordered officers to take a more hardline approach during this lockdown, saying it is ‘preposterous’ to suggest that the public would be unaware of the need to follow the rules.
Yesterday her deputy said it was clear the public were not taking the rules as seriously this time around and the police had been asked by the Government to step up enforcement.
Sir Steve described his frustration at anti-lockdown protests, citing a demonstration in Clapham, south London, last week where protesters were heckled by the public.
‘As they were walking down Clapham High Street members of the public who were legitimately out started shouting at them and telling them they were a bunch of idiots,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that view.’
The furloughed retail worker said: ‘With what’s going on, I can’t condone mass gatherings like that.’ But Max Powell, a first year student at Leeds Beckett University, described it as ‘the most fun we’ve had sober’
Around 20 people on a makeshift sledge cram onto a tarpaulin at Roudhay Park, Leeds today
Others were seen on skis and snowboards as snow settled in West Yorkshire on Thursday
He also told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee that his officers urgently needed vaccines and the force were happy to vaccinate their own officers and staff.
Around 1,700 Metropolitan Police staff are off sick or self-isolating.
On Wednesday night, Met officers broke up a party at an industrial unit in Southwark, south London, where they found at least 20 revellers on top of the building. Local residents cheered when police arrived.
Two people were arrested, one on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, the other for suspected drug dealing. Five people were handed fines for breaching Covid restrictions.
An illegal house party attended by up to 100 people in South Mimms, Hertfordshire, was also broken up by police.
Police seized alcohol and music equipment from the organiser. One officer was hurt while trying to disperse the crowd and one person was arrested. At least 12 people were handed fines.