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

The National Police Chiefs’ Council says it is concerned by ‘disproportionality’ in the issuing of fixed penalty notices by forces in England and Wales, but added the picture is complex with wide variation across the two countries.

Figures published by the NPCC show Lancashire Constabulary handed out 756 fines between March 27 and May 25 – with the force stating they have only ever issued fines as a last resort throughout the pandemic.

Of those, 516 were to white people and 239 to those of black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.

Analysis carried out by Government statisticians for the NPCC suggests that people from BAME backgrounds were fined at a rate of 19 in every 10,000 people, compared to 3.8 in every 10,000 white people.

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

Rates were calculated using police force area population estimates from mid-2016 – the latest year with an ethnicity breakdown. The figures include residents as well as those who travelled to the area.

The data also suggests that across England and Wales, young men aged between 18 and 34, from BAME backgrounds, were over-represented by around twice the rate of young white men in the same age groups.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Our approach since the regulations were introduced has always been to engage with people, explain the regulations to them, encourage them to follow them and only enforce them through fines as a last resort.

“Indeed we had over 15,000 Covid-related incidents reported to Lancashire Constabulary and issued just 756 fines.

“We have subsequently reviewed every fine issued and are confident that the majority have been issued appropriately in the circumstances.”

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."