BAME people more likely to be arrested under coronavirus laws, figures suggest

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Black, Asian and minority ethnic people were nearly 50% more likely than white people to be arrested in London using coronavirus laws, new figures suggest.

The total number of Fixed Penalty Notices handed out by the Metropolitan Police between March 27 and May 14 was almost a fifth higher for those from non-white communities.

While people from Asian, black, mixed and other backgrounds make up around four in 10 of the capital’s population, according to Office for National Statistics data, they account for more than half of the fines and arrests for alleged breaches of Covid-19 legislation.

  • Black people make up 12% of the population but received 26% of the 973 fines handed out by police and accounted for 31% of arrests

  • Asian people, who account for 18% of London’s population, were handed 23% of fines and were subject to 14% of arrests

The UK’s largest police force admitted “higher proportions of those in black and minority ethnic groups were issued with FPNs or arrested across London as a whole”.

But the Met said the reasons “are likely to be complex and reflect a range of factors”, adding:

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.

Met Police statement

Police were given powers to break up gatherings or fine and arrest people for breaching restriction of movement rules under the Health Protection Regulations 2020, from March 27.

The data released on Wednesday shows 973 fixed penalty notices were issued by the Met up to May 14.

444 were given to white people, with the total figure (526) 18% higher for non-white people, including 253 issued to black people, 220 to Asian people and 53 to others, according to the information recorded by officers.

The Met made a total of 747 arrests, although just 36 were for alleged breached of Covid-19 regulations alone, with the majority coming alongside arrests for other offences.

There were a total of 414 arrests for those who classify themselves as black (232), Asian (106), mixed (47) and other (29), some 46% higher than the 284 arrests of white people.

While non-white people make up 41% of London’s population, they account for 54% of fines and 55% of arrests, with no ethnicity stated in 7% of the arrests.