In England and Wales, the population from black, Asian and minority ethnic families are more than three times as likely to be fined for violating Covid-19 lockdown measures than white people. Why?
The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) expresses its worries caused by data released which highlighted the embarrassing "disproportionality" in issuing fixed penalty notices by forces in England and Wales, but added that the picture is more complex than what people might think.
Government rates were calculated using the police force area population estimations from mid-2016, unfortunately – and suspiciously? - the latest year with an ethnicity breakdown. The figures published by the NPCC demonstrated that the Gwent Police handed out 111 fines between March 27 and May 25, 2020, of which 98 were to white people and 13 to BAME’s backgrounds individuals.
However, the studies carried out by the administration statisticians for the NPCC suggests that people from BAME backgrounds were fined at a rate of 5.9% in every 10,000 people in Gwent, compared to 1.7% in every 10,000-white people in the region.
In other words, the fines imposed on the BAME population were 3.4% times higher compared to those of white origin – and also high above the national average estimated at 1.6%.
Yet, this is not it. The report also indicates that across England and Wales, young men between 18 and 34 years old from Asian, Black, and Ethnic backgrounds were overrepresented by around twice the rate of young white men in the same age groups.
Having seen the disproportionate and strange analysis results, NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt commented the data saying: “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 FPN and if it has been issued fairly."
Nonetheless, he wanted to add that the NPCC is working towards an action strategy aimed to tackle the above-revealed issues of lack of inclusion and race inequality, but also to address problems such as lower trust in police from black communities and distresses around the use of stop and search.
Yet, this is not the first report that asks for change highlighting stigmas and bias in a substantial part of the UK. In July 2020 civil liberties group Big Brother Watch demanded a review of all lockdown fines issued in England and Wales, describing the new coronavirus measures as "draconian".
Rosalind Comyn, the policy and campaigns officer of the mentioned organisation, also told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that it was extremely important that a "wholesale review of the fines” should be implemented, for people to have a right to appeal.
However, will it ever be the case in our controversial society?