Coronavirus laws have been branded a “mess” after figures suggested thousands of fines have gone unpaid or were withdrawn after being challenged.
Data obtained under freedom of information laws showed hundreds of fixed penalty notices have been rescinded by police forces after being issued.
Lawyers and campaigners said the figures illustrated how chaotic the laws governing Covid-19 restrictions had become, calling for a review of the process to make sure powers were being used fairly.
Lawyer Raj Chada, head of the criminal defence department at Hodge Jones & Allen, said: “The mess of Covid regulations know no bounds.
“Criminal law should be clear, certain and widely adhered to – otherwise it becomes arbitrary and unfair.
“These figures show that and worse – the situation is a farce.”
The Home Office spokesman said rules were "being enforced correctly" in the vast majority of cases and those who refuse to pay FPNs may face court action and a possible criminal record.
“Throughout the pandemic, officers have policed by consent – engaging with the public and encouraging compliance, but taking action where necessary," the Home Office added.
Here is the full data by force showing the number and proportion of fixed penalty notices that went unpaid in 28 days between March 27 and September 21 inclusive, followed by the figures showing the number and proportion of FPNs that were cancelled. Figures below are for London and the Home Counties
Bedfordshire Police 280, 132, 47.14%
British Transport Police 327, 197, 60.24%
City of London Police 73, 27, 36.99%
Essex Police 240, 97, 40.42%]
Hampshire Constabulary 253, 147, 58.10%
Hertfordshire Constabulary 273, 136, 49.82%
Kent Police 126, 74, 58.73%
Metropolitan Police Service 1,088, 558, 51.29%
Surrey Police 512, 203, 39.65%
Sussex Police 868, 345, 39.75%
Thames Valley Police 756, 332, 43.92%