Commissioner calls for higher fines for breaking travel restrictions as FM hints at rethink
A police boss is calling on the Welsh Government to do a U-turn and increase fines for breaking coronavirus travel restrictions.
Last week the Welsh Government rejected calls by PCC Arfon Jones of North Wales Police and Dafydd Llywelyn, his counterpart in Dyfed Powys, to introduce heavier fines.
But the First Minister Mark Drakeford today said that he would raise the level of fines if police figures show the current system is not “effective”.
He told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast that he will receive his weekly report from Wales’ four chief constables on Monday morning “to see what happened over the weekend”.
“If we find that there has been an increase in people coming across our border… doing it recklessly, then that conversation about the level of fines with our chief constables and police and crime commissioners will continue at the start of this week.”
The row came to a head after Prime Minister Boris Johnson eased the travel restrictions in England where people are now allowed to travel to take exercise.
It led to fears of confusion in Wales where the lockdown remains in place and where people can only take exercise in the vicinity of their own homes.
Fines for people who breach the travel restrictions start at £60 and go up to £120 for repeat offenders, although the amount can be reduced to £30 if the penalty is paid within 14 days.
Arfon Jones said he had seen a tweet from a North Wales Police officer which said: “I had one guy from Liverpool laugh at me and said me that a £30 fine is only like a parking ticket…What else can I say.”
The commissioner retweeted it and tagged in First Minister, saying: “Hey @MarkDrakeford @fmwales you want evidence to increase fines, how about this from a North Wales Police officer?”
He said the strength of feeling about the issue was demonstrated by the fact that his retweet gained 50,000 impressions.
“The tweet from the frustrated police officer hit the nail on the head because Welsh police forces are being denied the tools they need to do the job,” he said.
“The Welsh Government are not listening to their own people and are ignoring the needs of police officers on ground.
“If people know they stand to be fined up to £500 for travelling to Wales, they are not going to come.
“We need a realistic deterrent to reduce the number of people coming to Wales for leisure and exercise purposes which is not allowed under Welsh law.
“Increased penalties will ensure we have the capacity to deal with anybody who continue to flout the restrictions
“Our priority as police forces is to protect life and that’s the bottom line for me.
“What’s crazy is that the restrictions in Wales are tighter than England but the penalties in England are greater. It doesn’t make any sense.”