Over 60% of coronavirus fines unpaid in Merseyside figures suggest

Over 60% of coronavirus fines issued by Merseyside Police were unpaid between March and September according to figures obtained by the PA news agency.

Freedom of Information requests showed that 61% of fines given out in Merseyside had not been paid within 28 days between March 27 and September 21, it was also found that almost half of the fines issued in Merseyside were rescinded.

It comes as police forces were told to resume handing out £10,000 so-called super-fines less than a week after a decision to suspend them.

It has previously been disclosed that about half of fines nationally went unpaid in the 28-day period, although the chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Martin Hewitt said this proportion is similar to other fixed-penalty notices.

The total number of fines issued in England and Wales between March 27 and September 21 was 18,912.

People who receive a coronavirus fine can appeal in the first instance to the police force that handed out the penalty, to try to get it withdrawn.

Fixed penalty notices have been given out to people for breaking lockdown restrictions across the UK since March. Credit: PA

The figures provide a snapshot of data gathered by forces as of September 21, and as a result of the way the figures are recorded, may contain some overlap between the number of unpaid fines, those rescinded and formally contested.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, a human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, said it was "predictable" people would stop paying fines, with some not being able to afford to pay them, or not feeling they did break any laws, while others "may just be resentful that those in power acted as if the laws did not apply to them".

Calling for panels to be set up to review fines, she said: "Currently, it is a lottery whether you are fined and whether it will be rescinded.

"And it is questionable as to how effective issuing fines is to preventing the spread of the virus.

"Rather they are adding stress and hardship to people who already are suffering."

Merseyside Police have said that they have done their job in issuing the fines and it is up to the courts to make people pay.

A spokesman for the NPCC said: "We have enforced the law as set by the Government and Parliament. It is only right that fines are then processed in accordance with the law and we, therefore, encourage people not intending to contest a fine to pay it.

"If any individuals are concerned about why they have received a fine, they can raise it with the force which issued the FPN within the 28-day payment period.

"Officers will have recorded their justifications for issuing an FPN, along with providing evidence to support any breaches of the regulations.

"Once a fine is contested or unpaid the case will proceed to court. Police forces review all of these cases to further ensure only those cases that meet the evidential and public interest test are heard in court."