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Commissioner calls for higher fines for breaking travel restrictions as FM hints at rethink

18 May 2020 3 minutes Read
Picture by Gwent Police @gpoperations / Twitter

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.

 

‘Ignoring’

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.”

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Mary Roll
Mary Roll
1 year ago

Good for them. We are lucky to have such a committed police force working in the interests of the population of Wales. I hope the government will heed their advice and increase the fines accordingly, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. Many people in England seem to envy us a responsible government.

Clara
Clara
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Roll

Uuummm, apparently there are 2 schools of thought, Welsh government, and health Minister contradictions.

Linda Griffiths
Linda Griffiths
1 year ago

Drakeford will always drag his feet on issues that have been raised by people who are not Labour. He is not only ignoring the advice of people on the frontline, he is also ignoring what the majority of Welsh people would like to see happening.

It’s about time he took action and stopped playing party politics.

Bernard Gillespie
Bernard Gillespie
1 year ago

The lack of action from Mark Drakeford once again reinforces the impression that any problems in North Wales and outside the Cardiff bubble of the Welsh Labour Government will be ignored. It’s a major part of why Conservatives did so well in North Wales at the General Election ’19.

Clara
Clara
1 year ago

Sad that it’s all about heard control politics and not about individual human beings being given opportunities to make sensible decisions for self and others.

Huw John
Huw John
1 year ago

Mark Drakeford constantly says that he responds and acts on advice he is given by the experts. Surely, he must now act on the advice of the Police before the next bank holiday. Yes, raise the fine to £500.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Huw John

Wrong. Take their vehicles and hold them until the crisis is over.

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 year ago

“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.”

Says it all, really!

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 year ago

Why would Drakeford even need to be asked, let alone reject Arfon Jones’ request? Get on with it, mun!

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

Limp flip flopper . He had one fit of energy a week or so ago, but before and since he resembles a puppet with its strings cut.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 year ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

One can imagine bullies taking his sweets at school. Can’t imagine it with McEvoy.

Royston Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

” . . . he resembles a puppet with its strings cut”. I like that. I can see me using it.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Royston Jones

I’m sure you could go much better that ! Original scripts from an original thinker !

Jonathan Gammond
Jonathan Gammond
1 year ago

Do we know what percentage of these fines are actually paid? Once shared a house with someone whose job it was chase up unpaid fines and the percentage was very high. Perhaps matters have improved over the past ten years.. or perhaps not.

Meanwhile can someone explain the remark in the article: ““Increased penalties will ensure we have the capacity to deal with anybody who continue[s] to flout the restrictions.” It reads as if we need to raise more money from fines to fund something?????

Clara
Clara
1 year ago

I am a 2nd home owner. Prior to the imposed lockdown, I spent equal amounts of time @ both properties, my doctor is in wales. As a result of covit-19 I feel safer surrounded by an acre of land around my cottage than living in Bristol city. So it appears wrong that I would be fined if I choose what I believe would be the best place to go for my safe keeping. I am not a fool, and have isolated myself since the outbreak was first mentioned in February although nothing was being imposed by governments. If the Welsh… Read more »

Ralph
Ralph
1 year ago
Reply to  Clara

I don’t own a second home but I totally agree with you. The situation is ridiculous and getting worse each day. Insist on your refund!

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