London

Coronavirus: Disproportionate number of BAME people fined

Police in Trafalgar Square Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The Met has issued a total of 973 fixed penalty notices over nearly two months

Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority groups were fined for alleged breaches of the lockdown in London, data released by the Met Police show.

Between 27 March and 14 May, 26% (253) of fixed penalty notices were issued to black people, who make up 12% of the capital's population.

Asian people, who represent 18% of Londoners, were given 23% of fines (220) out of a total of 973 issued.

The Met said the reasons were "complex" and reflected a "range of factors".

"This includes interactions between the areas subject to significant proactive policing activity targeting crime hot-spots and both the variation in the age-profile and geographical distribution of ethnic groups in London," the force said.

Out of all the fines processed, 46% (444) were imposed on white people who make up 59% of Londoners.

Scotland Yard also revealed 774 arrests made in the period involved breaches of Covid-19 legislation, although in all but 36 cases other "substantive offences" were also involved.

Out of those arrests, 38% of people were white (284), 31% were black (232) and 14% were Asian (14%).

Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said policing the new legislation had been "complex".

"Our aim has been to protect London, and not to unnecessarily criminalise where we can avoid it."

However, Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry said the disproportionate number of fines and arrests issued to ethnic minorities was "a problem" which "requires action and leadership from the top".

"It is not a coincidence that yet again we are seeing harsh police tactics being used more often against the black community. The reasons behind this must be taken seriously," she added.

Former chief superintendent Owen West told BBC Radio 5 Live that racism was a potential factor.

"There are many, many communities out there that feel that that is their experience, that feel that stop (and) search, that feel that Covid fixed penalty notices are there on the basis of discrimination by officers."

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