Police vow to carry on giving £10k Covid fines despite Northamptonshire funeral case collapsing
Nine penalties issued across the county are all being challenged in court
Northamptonshire Police will continue to pursue nine £10,000 Covid fines through the courts — and issue more to anybody breaching remaining restrictions on mass gatherings.
One high-profile case relating to a funeral in November attended by 150-plus people collapsed on Monday when prosecutors at Northampton Magistrates Court decided there was insufficient evidence.
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly, who leads the Force response to the pandemic, revealed last month that all the £10,000 fines issued in the county are being challenged and are set to also end up in court.
He said: "All the £10,000 fines that we've issued have all been appealed and those will work through the court process now.
"With the backlog of the justice system, which of course is happening nationally, that will have an impact on when they are dealt with.
“Covid-19 legislation remains in place and our police officers will be continuing with enforcement action wherever necessary, so anyone who fails to follow the rules can expect to receive a Fixed Penalty Notice.”
“As at every stage out of lockdown, we are continuing to encourage people to follow the rules.
“If you are out and about anywhere, from a park to a pub garden, remain in groups of no more than six people or two households, and follow the rules shops and licenced premises have put in place to ensure the spread of Covid-19 is contained, so the progress we have made as a county continues.
“My officers will continue to respond to reported breaches of Covid legislation and issue fines of up to £10,000 to anyone hosting a gathering and £200 fines to those people in attendance."
Police have reviewed up to 14 fines which were understood to have been issued to organisers of gatherings of 30 people or more since December.
Some have been cancelled following advice from the National Police Chiefs Council which indicated they did not meet the legal requirements set out in the legislation but nine remain active.
Home secretary Priti Patel introduced the mega fines last August as a crackdown on "the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions," targeting illegal raves, unlicensed music events over the upcoming bank holiday weekend.
Four were issued following three house parties in December and another to the organiser of a religious event at Northampton's Campanile Hotel on December 13.
It is not known if any of those fines are among the nine that are still being pursued.
Some Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed earlier this month but fines for gatherings of more than 30 people are likely to be among the last to be lifted, not before June 21 under the government's roadmap.
■ Reports of potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations can be made via the Northamptonshire Police website HERE.