Black people more likely to be fined under coronavirus laws than whites in London, new figures show

A police officer wears a face mask during a mass gathering protest organised by the group called 'UK Freedom Movement', in Hyde Park in London as the country is in lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Saturday, May 16, 2020. The group claims that the coronavirus lockdown is illegal. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
New Met data shows a higher proportion of ethnic minorities have been arrested or fined under the coronavirus laws in London than white people. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are more likely to be fined under coronavirus regulations than white people in London, new data shows.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police show white people in London were given 45.6% of fines, while 26% were given to black people, 22.6% to Asian people and 5.8% to an ethnicity characterised as “other” or not recorded.

The data comes as concerns grow about the impact of coronavirus on BAME people, who are more likely to die from COVID-19, a review has found.

The Met said that “when compared with the composition of the resident population, higher proportions of those in black and minority ethnic groups were issued with FPNs (fines) or arrested across London as a whole”.

“The reasons for this are likely to be complex and reflect a range of factors,” the force added.

Fines broken down by ethnicity. (Met Police)
Fines broken down by ethnicity. (Met Police)

“This includes interactions between the areas subject to significant proactive policing activity targeting crime hot-spots and both the variation in the age-profile and geographical distribution of ethnic groups in London.”

Only 36 arrests were made solely for a breach of the coronavirus laws, the Met said.

In instances where a person was arrested on suspicion of an offence that meant they also broke COVID regulations, drug offences were the main reason.

The data shows that 38% of arrests in the capital were made on white people, 31% of arrests on black people, 14% on Asian people and 17% on people recorded as mixed, “other” or whose ethnicity was not stated.

Met Police data shows arrests broken down by ethnicity.
Met Police data shows arrests broken down by ethnicity.

Activists demonstrated against racism last weekend following the death of George Floyd in the US, who died after a white police officer pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck.

Floyd's death has highlighted police brutality and the relationship and tensions between minority groups and officers.

The Met’s data was taken from 27 March to 14 May and ethnic identity is assessed by an officer.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown rules to stay in place for longer, government says

The Met’s assistant commissioner Mark Simmons said: “We have seen, overall, good compliance when we have intervened, meaning in most cases the need for issuing a fixed penalty notice or arrest has been unnecessary.

“I hope Londoners will be reassured as a result of the low volume of COVID-19 related enforcement that we have been using the new powers only when we have absolutely needed to.

“We have seen very few arrests of people where they have only been in breach of the COVID-19 regulations and not been committing any other offences which further demonstrates the effectiveness of our approach.

“However, as well as playing our part in protecting London from the spread of COVID-19, throughout this period the Met has been determined to remain proactive and target those involved in violence and wider criminality.

“We have seen police proactively undertaking patrols and targeting crime hotspots.”

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