In England and Wales, black people were found to have received Covid-related fines at a rate three times higher than average.
According to a study commissioned for Britain’s police chiefs, fines were three times more likely to be issued to black individuals and seven times more likely to be given in the most deprived areas during the pandemic.
The study found there is a racial gap in every police force. In some regions, people from ethnic minorities were found to be as much as eight times more likely to receive fines. These findings are indicative of the unequal treatment of ethnic minorities in the use of police powers. However, many police forces and the government have denied institutional racism.
The study was carried out by scholars from the University of Edinburgh and was ordered by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. The NPPC did not release the results, which came as a surprise to the researchers who worked on it.
The Cabinet Office has notified the authorities regarding possible violations of Covid regulations by Boris Johnson, who was Prime Minister during the lockdowns. He may be liable for a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) if found guilty.
During the period from 27 March 2020 to 31 May 2021, a total of 122,506 fines were issued, as per the study.
In England, individuals belonging to ethnic minority groups were found to have a likelihood of being fined that was more than twice as high compared to that of white individuals, with an even higher rate observed among black individuals.
The study said: “In England, the rate of FPNs per 10,000 people from an ethnic minority background was 46.1, compared to 19.9 for white individuals, reflecting an ethnic disparity rate of 2.3.
“The ethnic disparity rate in England was highest for people from a black ethnic background, who were 3.2 times more likely to be issued with an FPN.”
the rate of FPNs per 10,000 people by ethnic group
Percentage of FPNs by ethnicity
The NPCC lead for enforcing Covid rules, the assistant chief constable Owen Weatherill, said: “It is clearly a concern to see a disparity between the number of FPNs issued to white and Black, Asian or ethnic minority people.
“But what the data is not able to show us is why these disparities exist. Each force will look at this data carefully to assess and mitigate any risks of bias – conscious or unconscious – and to minimise disproportionate impact in the future, wherever possible.”