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Review finds no concerns about fixed penalty notices issued to repeat offenders

An independent review of how Dorset Police has issued fines to repeat offenders throughout the pandemic has found officers acted reasonably and proportionately.

The work was carried out by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, which has been scrutinising how the Force is using new powers to clamp down on people breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

The office’s scrutiny manager and director of operations examined a randomly selected series of incidents in which fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued to people who had received more than one notice.

In all the cases, the OPCC found there were no concerns. Most of the FPNs had been issued after the Force received calls from worried members of the public or as a result of routine patrols.

This follows work the OPCC carried out last year to scrutinise FPNs issued by the Force for people breaching COVID restrictions.

The independent Out of Court Disposals Scrutiny Panel, set up by the Dorset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, met online in June and examined a randomly selected sample of anonymised notices issued by the Force in April and early May.

The OPCC had also previously examined a separate randomly selected sample of cases in which FPNs were issued during the early weeks of the first lockdown, and fed back that they were reassured by the quality of officers’ decision making. This took place more quickly than the usual round of panels in order to scrutinise the police’s work as a matter of urgency.

More scrutiny of the Force’s use of FPNs will now be carried out when the panel sits later this month.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “The pandemic has been an extraordinary time for policing in the UK, and has made the work of independently scrutinising the police even more important than usual.

“The public have got a right to know whether the Force are acting reasonably and proportionately, particularly when it comes to the small number of repeat offenders who have received more than one of these notices, and it’s very reassuring to see the findings of this review.

“This is part of an ongoing process that my office has been carrying out to scrutinise the Force’s use of new restrictions that has been taking place since shortly after lockdown started and which will continue.”

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “This is another independent review that has been carried out into fines issued by the Force in relation to COVID-19 breaches.

“Asking people to stay at home and carrying out enforcement activity against those who break the rules is something no one in policing ever thought they would have to do. It has also attracted scrutiny over the last year from both the media and some members of the public.

“I am delighted that for all the challenges COVID-19 has presented, this latest review yet again highlights that our officers and police staff are getting it right and continue to enforce the restrictions reasonably and proportionately.”


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