New figures reveal more than 18,500 people have been fined by police for breaking coronavirus rules in the North West

Large crowds gather at an event earlier in April

More than 18,500 fines have been handed out to people for breaking coronavirus rules across the North West.

The latest provisional figures from the National Police Chiefs' Council shows three of our police forces are in the top five areas in England for issuing fixed penalty notices between 27 March 2020 and 18 April 2021.

Merseyside Police handed out more fines (7,281) than any other force apart from London's Metropolitan Police.

Greater Manchester Police (5,121) is fourth on the list after Northumbria, while Lancashire (4.539) is fifth.

Comparatively, officers in Cheshire Constabulary handed out 1,649 fixed penalty notices, just 11 less than the number of those handed out in Cumbria (1,660).

7,281

The number of fixed penalty notices handed out by Merseyside Police

Merseyside topped the league for penalising people for breaking face mask rules (746) and for not following self-isolation rules (16).

Meanwhile, 25 of the fines on Merseyside and 19 of those in Greater Manchester were given to people for holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

GMP handed out the second highest amount of fines for breaching international travel restrictions (62). Lancashire Constabulary was third (55).

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said, “We’re continuing to take encouraging steps out of lockdown. The number of fines processed have gone down again in the past four weeks, which is to be expected as restrictions are lifted.

“All of our hard work and sacrifice is paying off, and to ensure we continue to move in this direction, it’s important we keep the threat of Covid-19 at the forefront of our minds and stick to the rules at each stage of the roadmap.

“Despite these good signs, there are still a small number of people who blatantly disregard the rules, attending and organising large gatherings, such as illegal parties or unlicensed music events."

Police at Platt Fields in Manchester

The NPCC highlighted recent police action at a large gathering at an unlicensed music event at Platt Fields Park in Wimslow earlier this month.

Officers dispersed hundreds of people and the organiser was given a £10,000 fine.

Mr Hewitt continued, "Forces up and down the country have shut down a number of these selfish and unsafe events, and officers won’t let up in their efforts over the coming weeks.

“The same applies for large indoor gatherings, and any person who organises or attends these can also expect to be fined.

“Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, I also want to remind everyone that there are still limits on how many people can meet up in groups outside.

"As the weather has improved and restrictions have eased, we have seen several large gatherings in outdoor spaces, most commonly in parks.

“I understand that people are excited to see their friends and family again after such a long time, but it really is vital people continue to follow the rules at each stage of the government’s roadmap or we risk undermining our efforts up to now.

“Our officers will continue to carry out patrols and will engage with the public to keep explaining the restrictions which remain in place at the time.”