Young BAME men twice as likely to have been fined during lockdown

Young men from BAME backgrounds were twice as likely as their white peers to face police fines during the peak of lockdown restrictions, analysis has revealed.

Police data analysed by National Police Chiefs’ Council also showed that the BAME people were overall 60 per cent more likely to be issued with fines between March 27 and May 25 for breaking coronavirus laws.

Men under 45 years old were more than three times more likely than the average person to be fined, receiving 70 per cent of the 17,039 notices issued across England and Wales.

NPCC chair Martin Hewitt said the figures were concerning and would inform an action plan on race equality in policing, although he cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the data given the small number of fines issued to minority groups.

He said: ‘While it is a complex picture, it is a concern to see disparity between white and black, Asian or ethnic minority people. Each force will be looking at this carefully to assess and mitigate any risk of bias – conscious or unconscious – and to minimise disproportionate impact wherever possible.’

‘After the killing of George Floyd, there has been a real look internally at the progress that we have made in terms of policing relationships with the black community and the inclusivity of policing.

‘We have done a lot, but we haven’t done enough and it hasn’t gone fast enough. We are in the process of working through what will be a significant new plan of action in terms of how we deal with issues of inclusivity within the service.’

Just three in every 10,000 people on average were fined across the two-month period looked at, but the figure varied within different communities.

The rate for 4.7 for Asian people, 4.6 for black people, 3.1 for mixed, 2.6 for other minority ethnicities and 2.5 for white people.

The figures also varied significantly around the country, with some forces handing fines evenly to all ethnic categories while some handed up to 6.5 times more to BAME people.

Men from BAME backgrounds aged 18-34 were over-represented by around twice the rate of white men in the same age group.

Women aged 18-24 from a BAME background were slightly less likely to be fined than average.

Almost half of police forces issued fewer than 40 fines, or Fixed-Penalty Notices (FPNs) in total to BAME people.

Mr Hewitt added: ‘Real caution in interpretation of local disparity rates is required given the small numbers involved in some force areas. Additionally the national analysis is based on a whole force area and doesn’t take account of the very local demographics in that area.

‘Rural and coastal forces that attract tourists issued significantly more FPNs to non-residents, which has significantly affected the level of disparity between white and people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds compared with other forces who issued fewer relatively to non-residents.

‘For a number of forces, continued focus on crime and violence could affect their disparity rate as areas that have been a focus of police activity are also areas with a higher concentration of black, Asian and minority ethnic people, which also increases the possibility of officers identifying and dealing with breaches during those deployments.

He also suggested that communities with lower trust in police would be less likely to comply with attempts to ‘encourage’ compliance with the rules.

All forces in England and Wales currently face an Independent Office for Police Conduct inquiry into whether they are racially biased in their use of force during stop-and-search.

Previous figures have indicated that black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched and almost eight times more likely to be tasered.

Analysis of court data has shown that BAME defendants are found guilty at a similar rate to white people but appear to receive disproportionately higher sentences for some crimes.

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