North Yorkshire Police record highest number of lockdown fines in the country
North Yorkshire Police has issued more fines for lockdown breaches than any other force in England.
New figures show North Yorkshire Police has handed out 1,082 fines since restrictions started in March - more than the Metropolitan Police in London.
The force has reacted to the numbers by thanking local people, saying more than half of those fines were issued to visitors rather than residents.
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “The police’s overarching aim in the response to covid-19 has been to keep people safe, to protect the NHS and save lives. We took that responsibility seriously.
"Although we planned for the worst case scenario, we have seen a much lower than expected absence rate among our officers and staff, enabling us to provide increased patrols in our communities.
“We are thankful that out of thousands of interactions with the public we rarely had to enforce the regulations.
"The vast majority of people understood and supported the role of the police in this public health emergency and we are grateful for all of the support and positive engagement we have had from members of the public.
“There was a minority who didn’t understand or believed the rules did not apply to them. And where people have not responded to our engagement approach, when we have explained the regulations and encouraged them to follow them, but they have still refused, we have resorted to enforcement – as the public would expect us to.
“North Yorkshire is a lovely place - it has two national parks, two areas of outstanding natural beauty, a picturesque coastline and 6,000 miles of roads that connect them all.
"It’s one of the most visited areas in the country. In fact its population increases by millions during a ‘normal’ tourist season.
"So we understand why people still wanted to visit – even when they shouldn’t have – and this goes some way to explaining why more than 50 percent of our fines have been issued to visitors from outside of North Yorkshire.
"These fines have also been subjected to scrutiny, both before submission to ACRO criminal records office, and by an independent scrutiny panel led by Julia Mulligan, our Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. And we welcome any further scrutiny that may be put in place nationally.
"We thank the public of York and North Yorkshire for playing their part during this crisis and for their support through what has been a very fast-moving and challenging time for everyone. The sacrifices they have made has helped to protect thousands of people and we should be proud of this.
"As more and more restrictions are lifted and communities come back to life, personal responsibility is now key to controlling the virus. We urge everyone to look after themselves and their loved ones, remember that the virus has still not gone away, keep in mind the purpose of the existing restrictions and regulations and stay safe. And remember that as we were before and during this crisis, we are still here for you if you need us.”
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: "The number of fines issued across North Yorkshire shows that our police officers and staff have been doing exactly what has been asked of them – enforcing the law to control the virus and keep us all safe.
"Over the past few weeks and months, we have had to deal with large numbers of visitors arriving from outside the county. Police have engaged with those breaking the rules and issued fines only when they refused to comply.
"In this process, they have faced incidents of verbal abuse, had their authority questioned and been spat at – all completely unacceptable responses to perfectly reasonable requests."