PEOPLE from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in Essex were nearly twice as likely to be fined for breaching Covid-19 lockdown rules than white people, new figures suggest.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says it is concerned by “disproportionality” in the issuing of fixed penalty notices by forces in England and Wales. , but said the picture

Figures published by the NPCC show Essex Police handed out 231 fines between March 27 and May 25 at the beginning of lockdown.

Of those, 193 were to white people and 31 to those of black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.

Although many more fines were given to white people analysis carried out by Government statisticians for the NPCC suggests that people from BAME backgrounds were fined at a rate of 2.2 in every 10,000 people, compared to 1.2 in every 10,000 white people.

That means fines for BAME people were 1.9 times higher than for white people – above the national average of 1.6.

The figures include residents as well as those who travelled to the area.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “While it is a complex picture, it is a concern to see disparity between white and black, Asian or ethnic minority people.

“Each force will be looking at this carefully to assess and mitigate any risks of bias – conscious or unconscious – and to minimise disproportionate impact wherever possible.

“Many forces have brought in community representatives to help them scrutinise the circumstances around each fixed penalty notice and if it has been issued fairly.”

He added that the NPCC is working towards a plan of action to address issues of inclusion and race equality, such as lower trust in police from black communities and concerns around the use of stop and search.

The number of fines issued to be people were generally higher in coastal areas and beauty spots.

But analysis found those areas typically have relatively small BAME populations, meaning a small number of fines issued to BAME people could lead to high disparity rates.

Campaigners have called for a review of all lockdown fines calling the coronavirus regulations draconian.