Tory MP calls for fines dished out for minor lockdown breaches should be refunded
- Andrew Percy demands ‘Freedom Bill’ for people fined over lockdown breaches
- MP for Brigg and Goole claimed there were inconsistencies in police responses
- 118,438 fixed penalty notices were issued in England and Wales by last October
Fines dished out for minor breaches of lockdown laws should be refunded because they were a ‘huge imposition on personal freedoms,’ a Tory MP has suggested.
Andrew Percy is calling for a ‘Freedom Bill’ to repay people who found themselves on the wrong side of the rules for anything other than ‘egregious’ offences.
By last October, 118,438 fixed penalty notices had been issued in England and Wales for breaching the restrictions, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, for offences that included sitting in parks with friends or seeing elderly relatives outdoors.
Mr Percy said: ‘We must avoid a situation again where the Government tells individual citizens who they have a right to meet in their own family and friendship group. Especially now we know a lot of these measures were ineffective.’
The fines ranged from £100 for minor breaches up to £10,000 for organising large gatherings such as illegal raves.
Last week, court documents showed a 66-year-old man from Brockley, South London, who said he was going to his allotment to collect vegetables was fined £100 after police decided that he was actually meeting friends.
Mr Percy, the MP for Brigg and Goole, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There was an unfairness because police forces responded differently. Some forces had thousands of reports in the first lockdown, but they resulted in no investigation and no action. Others had minor breaches investigated.
Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole, is calling for a ‘Freedom Bill’ to repay people who found themselves on the wrong side of the rules for anything other than ‘egregious’ offences
‘These restrictions were absolutely necessary at the time, but we need to recognise they were a massive imposition in people’s lives. Let’s hope we never have to go down this road again.’
He added: ‘Lots of people complained their neighbours had had their dad over in the garden.
‘While they doubtless thought they were helping the fight against coronavirus, and I don’t criticise them, it created an environment where neighbour turned on neighbour. It turned people into snoopers.
By last October, 118,438 fixed penalty notices had been issued in England and Wales for breaching the restrictions, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, for offences that included sitting in parks with friends. Pictured: Large crowds gather in Sefton Park, Liverpool
‘You had situations where people were isolated from their support networks. They couldn’t have a coffee with a friend.
‘People may not have thought that this was mental health support, but now realise these sort of interactions are really important.’
He said the fines amnesty should be introduced at the same time as all Covid restrictions are removed from the statute book.
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