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Cumbria's police seven time more likely to fine BAME people than white people, new figures show

CUMBRIAN police are almost seven times more likely to fine black and ethnic minority (BAME) people under coronavirus laws than white people, new figures show. 

Figures obtained by Liberty Investigates, part of the human rights group Liberty, determined the ethnic breakdown of fines issued by 25 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales. 

It found that 18 were more likely to issue fines to BAME people, with Cumbria police demonstrating the most disproportionate use of fines at 6.8 times. 

In Lincolnshire, and Avon and Somerset, people from a BAME background were 4.4 times more likely to be fined by police.

Since the lockdown was implemented on March 23, police forces across England and Wales have issued close to 18,000 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to people who have allegedly violated coronavirus rules. 

Speaking at a home affairs select committee, Liberty journalist Mirren Gidda said that the findings as well as case studies in which people have been fined unlawfully “throws it into question and suggests that maybe we need a review.” 

Giving reasons why BAME people were being disproportionately fined Ms Gidda suggested that a lack of guidance to forces when the new laws were rushed in has left them open to misinterpretation. 

The recent analysis also appears to show that police forces in regions with small BAME populations are more likely to fine ethnic minorities. 

Cumbria is one of the least diverse areas in England and Wales, with BAME people accounting for just 0.2 per cent of the population – far less than the 14 per cent national average, according to the 2011 consensus.

The BAME population in Avon and Somerset is 6.8 per cent (reaching 16 per cent in Bristol), and Lincolnshire 2.2 per cent.  

However chief inspector with the Cumbria Constabulary Jon Sherlock told the Guardian: “Of the Cumbrian residents issued penalty notices, five were of a BAME background.”

King’s College Criminology Professor Ben Bowling told MPs that the seemingly disproportionate rate of fines against BAME people by rural forces could be a reflection of police stereotyping which he said “tends to focus on people being out of place.” 

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