A year like no other: how the pandemic changed policing in Northamptonshire

Many, many fines have been handed out for Covid rule breaches

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:55 pm
The Traveller funeral in Kettering.

Today (Tuesday) marks exactly one year since the first national lockdown began - and marks one year since policing changed significantly.

Officers soon had a new set of rules to enforce under emergency powers designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

People were not allowed to leave their home unless it was for one of a few reasons, such as essential shopping, travelling to work or going for daily exercise.

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Rangers title celebrations in Corby.

There was initially some confusion over what police would and wouldn't be doing in the county - with chief constable Nick Adderley admitting his language was "clumsy" after seemingly warning his officers could check shoppers' trollies when he appeared on TV.

The vast majority of Northamptonshire residents stuck to the rules, with police criticising those who didn't such as those who attended a BBQ party in Kettering in April, which was broken up by officers.

Fast forward 12 months and officers in the county have given out 1,954 fixed penalty notices for Covid regulation breaches (data to February 14).

A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said: “The Covid-19 pandemic changed policing significantly, especially during the first lockdown when people’s day-to-day lives were so drastically and suddenly disrupted.

“The vast majority of the public rose to the occasion incredibly and have been absolutely fantastic in making a collective effort to follow the rules and keep each other safe. For that, we are very grateful.

“Of course there will always be that minority who think the rules don’t apply to them and they have been issued with fines for breaching the regulations."

Northamptonshire's fines include 294 for breaching face covering regulations, 16 for breaching international travel regulations and four for breaching business regulations.

Ten have been given out for holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

They sought to hand out their first £10,000 fine after about 150 Travellers gathered for the funeral of Joe Rooney in Kettering in November.

Further 'super fines' followed for house parties in Northampton and a funeral in Northampton attended by "at least 60 people".

They also said they could given another £10,000 fine the organiser of Rangers title celebrations in Corby, where football fans gathered and let off smoke bombs and fireworks.

The Northamptonshire Police spokesman added that they urged people to follow the rules so our lives can get back to normal.

They said: “A year on and we are still in a national lockdown so following the rules remains as important as ever.

"However, we can also see the finish line now and by continuing to follow the rules, hopefully our lives will go back to normal very soon.”