Coronavirus: Police ‘undermining public trust’ after mistakenly giving children lockdown fines

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 11: A police officer speaks to a man on Roath Recreation Ground on April 11, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Police have stepped up patrols to prevent people from travelling to beaches and beauty spots over the Easter weekend. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 100,000 lives and infecting over 1 million people. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A police officer speaks to a man in Cardiff. (Getty)

Police officers have been accused of “undermining public trust” after 39 fines were mistakenly given to children for alleged breaches of coronavirus lockdown rules.

Hampshire Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen said on Wednesday the law does not allow fixed penalty notices to be issued to under-18s so the fines will be withdrawn.

Between 27 March and 13 April, 39 of the fines were wrongly issued to children by police in England.

Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties and privacy campaigning organisation, has criticised the police for issuing the fines.

The group’s director Silkie Carlo told Yahoo News UK: “It’s shameful that after a series of damaging failures the emergency regulations are still being misused and misapplied.”

Read more: Woman aged 106 ‘is Britain's oldest survivor of coronavirus’

Police officers in Glasgow Green to ensure members of the public are following lockdown guidelines as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police officers patrol Glasgow Green to ensure members of the public are following lockdown guidelines. (Getty)

Carlo added: “The police’s inability to use these extraordinary powers appropriately is seriously undermining public trust as well as the rule of law.

“We're also seeing people being wrongfully convicted under the emergency Coronavirus Act.

“Police have a tough time at the moment and urgently require better training as well as guidance from government.”

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Data showed that from 27 March and 13 April, a total of 3,203 fines were issued by police forces in England.

Over the Easter weekend, there were 290 in Wales.

Members of the public as old as 100 were slapped with a £60 penalty, which is reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks.

A third of the fines went to those aged 18-24, with a further third going to those aged 25-34.

Police said that 83 people were brought straight to court for allegedly breaking the rules.

Read more: London's NHS Nightingale 'largely empty' and ‘only had 19 patients’ over Easter

The National Police Chiefs’ Council gave a force-by-force breakdown of the number of penalty notices issued, with the highest in Lancashire, where 380 were handed out.

Thames Valley Police chalked up 219, while Surrey issued 205.

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