The role of the police in enforcing coronavirus restrictions is waning, according to research, with no fines issued to enforce a travel quarantine and only 10 issued for failure to wear masks on public transport.
The government introduced a policy ordering people entering the UK to self-isolate for 14 days on 8 June.
But statistics released on 22 June showed that not one fine was issued by officers for those alleged to have breached the quarantine. Critics had said the policy was pointless, serving only to damage the ailing travel and tourism industries. The quarantine policy was relaxed last Friday.
The figures, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, cover a period after the lockdown to limit the pandemic’s spread had been loosened and with it the role of the police reduced.
With the travel quarantine, the police’s role was limited to enforcement only if other agencies suspected a breach.
The NPCC said: “Up to 22 June, no fines were issued by territorial forces in England and Wales for breaches of the requirement to quarantine following international travel.”
Fines for failing to wear a face covering on public transport became mandatory on 15 June. The 10 fines were issued by officers from British Transport Police who patrol the transport network.
The NPCC said their figures issued on Friday would not include instances where travel staff had barred someone from travelling because they did not have a mask, because that would not be a matter for police.
As the restriction loosed and people were encouraged to get out of their homes, only 97 fines were issued in England and 57 in Wales during the two weeks to 6 July.
The NPCC said it could not say how many of these were for illegal raves and unlicensed events. The low number, some police say privately, is because there is little left for them to do to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
The local lockdown enforced on Leicester led to 42 fines issued by 6 July.
Police were given the power to issue fines from 27 March, back when people were ordered to stay home except for limited exceptions and not to gather in public.
In all, 18,656 fines have been issued by police in England and Wales since 27 March, and most fines went to those aged 18-39, with 787 people fined more than once by officers.
Martin Hewitt, the chair of the NPCC said: “In order to avoid further peaks and local lockdowns, I’m again stressing the need for everyone to be personally responsible and think twice before they go about their business – plan your trips, wear coverings where necessary, and don’t cram in public places where distancing is already difficult to achieve.”
The NPCC is still to issue an official ethnic breakdown for who was fined, with figures reported by the Guardian showing people from ethnic minority backgrounds being fined more.