Welsh Government accused of ‘fudging’ coronavirus fines increase by North Wales police commissioner
The Welsh Government has been accused of “fudging” an increase in coronavirus fines by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.
Last night, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the maximum fine for repeated breaches of the COVID-19 lockdown rules in Wales would rise from £120 to £1,920 ahead of the bank holiday weekend.
He said the move was based on a request from the four police forces in Wales and the police and crime commissioners to help deter people from repeatedly breaching the stay-at-home regulations.
However, North Wales PCC Arfon Jones said the changes did not go far enough with the minimum penalty remaining static at £60, which can be reduced to £30 by paying early.
Posting on Twitter, he said: “It’s all spin cos £60 is no deterrent.”
@MarkDrakeford @fmwales fudges the issue of fines once again by *refusing* to increase the minimum fine of £60 or £30 for early payment but increases fines for repeat offending only. How many will get £1920 for their sixth offence? None! It's all spin cos £60 is no deterrent. pic.twitter.com/ls29a1yXIt
— Arfon Jones 🏴🏴🌈🌈 (@ArfonJ) May 20, 2020
His sentiments were echoed by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, who described the decision not to raise the minimum fine as “bitterly regrettable”.
He said: “After weeks of pressure from Wales’ police chiefs and Plaid Cymru, the Labour Welsh Government have finally seen sense and raised the maximum fines for those breaking lockdown rules in Wales from £120 to £1,920.
“This latest U-turn from the government is a victory for common sense and to the perseverance of our police forces who are doing heroic work in protecting our communities during this crisis.
“However, the decision not to raise the minimum fines in parity with England as requested by the All Wales Policing Group remains bitterly regrettable.”
Mr Jones later posted up a table demonstrating the change in fine levels, pointing out how the lower end of the scale had not altered greatly.
— Arfon Jones 🏴🏴🌈🌈 (@ArfonJ) May 21, 2020
Announcing the changes to the fines structure, which will come into force tomorrow,Mark Drakeford said: “I am very grateful to the chief constables and our police and crime commissioners for all the work they have done to keep Wales safe throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“The police have adopted a ‘4Es’ approach to the regulations – they have engaged people, explained what they need to do and encouraged them to comply.
“But when people haven’t responded, they have used their powers to enforce the regulations.
“Fines are a last resort in the enforcement of the regulations which keep us all safe.
“The evidence from the chief constables and police and crime commissioners shows we need a stronger fines structure to deter that small minority of people who persistently fail to keep to the rules.”
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