Latest figures suggest only a fraction of the £10,000 lockdown fines issued last year have actually been paid, with dozens more being challenged or ignored.
Between August and December 20th last year, police in England issued 196 of the fines with just two handed out in Wales. The fines were given to organisers of gatherings of more than 30 people including raves, parties and protests.
Of those 196 fines issued in England, only five have been paid according to snapshot figures. 53 are being formally contested, 42 have been ignored and 96 still have time left to pay in the 28-day payment period.
The data from Acro the criminal records office was given to the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC). Figures released late in the month by the PA news agency via Acro showed that 76 of the 198 fines issued in England and Wales were being contested.
Legal and policy officer for Big Brother Watch, Madeleine Stone, called unpaid lockdown fines ‘a prosecution crisis waiting to happen’.
She said: “These life-changing fines are a draconian and ineffective response to the pandemic.”
Rosalind Comyn, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said: “The creation of £10,000 fines was completely disproportionate and only serves to punish people financially at a time of great economic uncertainty.
“For many people this fine is impossible to pay, and so this tactic just widens the number of people at risk of being criminalised.”
Human rights barrister, Kirsty Brimelow QC said: “The majority of people cannot afford to pay a £10,000 fine. People are being set up to fail by the issuing of these notices.”
Police warned the government in November over the super-fines, as those who paid within the 28 day period could face a larger bill than those who fought the penalty in court.
Initially, officers were told to stop issuing penalties, however it was later agreed that those issued with a £10,000 fine were to be made fully aware of their right to fight it in court.
Senior officers are said to be not surprised by the proportion of fines being contested due to the sheer size of the fine.
An NPCC spokesperson said: “Police use a 4Es approach of engaging with the public, explaining the rules, and encouraging compliance with them.
“Large gatherings should not be happening in the current circumstances and the regulations in place for everyone’s safety are absolutely clear on that.
“Those who organise large gatherings know they are breaking the law and putting others at risk.
“Officers will only issue a fine as a last resort, but will not waste time with endless encouragement where there is a clear and egregious breach of the rules, such as for these large gatherings.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The majority of the public are continuing to play their part to control this terrible virus by staying at home – it is shameful that a small minority continue to flout the law and it’s right we have a strong deterrent for those who put us at risk by ignoring the rules.
“Those who refuse to pay fixed penalty notices may face court action and a possible criminal record.
“We have given police the appropriate guidance to ensure they can charge offences correctly, and rigorously enforce the law, which is why we have made £60 million of extra funding available to police and local authorities.”
Latest figures show that a total of 250 fines were issued in England and Wales up to January 17th.
In the past month, they include fines to a funeral director over a service attended by 150 in Welwyn Garden City, organisers of a mass snowball fight in Leeds and organisers of a wedding attended by around 150 people in north London.
Legendary Manchester metal pub Grand Central is sadly closing down
Manchester’s alternative music scene has lost a real gem
The city’s staple metal music and gig venue, Grand Central, will be permanently closing its doors, it was announced today.
The Oxford Street haunt confirmed rumours that it wouldn’t be reopening – at least not ‘the way it was’ – on Facebook this morning.
Alongside a photo of smiling staff members, the post read: “The stories are true, Grand Central won’t be reopening the way it was. All the now former staff want to thank Tom for everything he has done for us and for giving the alternative scene a home for the last 20+ years.
“I’m sure everyone has stories connected to the little pub, share them and don’t let the memory of the GRAND F***ING CENTRAL die.
“Thank you to everyone for the custom over the years, we will miss you.”
The venue’s manager Danny Daemon also wrote on Facebook: “The regulars made the place and you know who you are. You embraced me as the new manager and I couldn’t of asked for a better group of people.”
Explaining the reason for the shock closure, he explained: “I know all this is a shock to you all, but this had been in the works from before lockdown. Stonegate own some pretty cool places and whilst no, it won’t be GC as we know it, there’s still a chance they’ll embrace it as an alternative hot spot. They might even do food.”
Social media users were understandably devastated to hear the news, with one writing: “So sad. In my eyes Manchester has just lost a main part of its culture. I will never forget this place and everyone I have either served or had the pleasure to have a drink with.”
Another wrote: “We always had a friendly welcome and met some truly awesome and unique people in there. Really going to miss it. Where do we go from here?”
Grand Central opened over twenty years ago and became a firm favourite among rock, metal and alternative music fans. Several bands also played there over the years, with local metal band 4GEN7 saying it was ‘a second home for most of us at one point or another.’
According to a number of posts circulating on social media, the venue has been acquired by the Stonegate Pubs group, though plans for the site are yet to be confirmed.
Marcus Rashford is the UK’s largest charitable donor having given away 125% of his net worth
He’s also the youngest charitable donor to top the Sunday Times Giving List
Startling new figures have shown that Marcus Rashford is the UK’s most generous charitable donor, having given away a massive 125% of his net worth to charity.
He is also the youngest person to ever top the Sunday Times Giving List, a system that ranks philanthropists by comparing the sums they’ve raised for charity against their net worth on the Sunday Times Rich List.
With a personal worth of £16million, Rashford managed to raise a staggering 125% of his net worth over the past year, ultimately helping charity FareShare distribute 4 million meals to disadvantaged children.
FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said the footballer’s commitment to tackling child hunger ‘has simply been incredible.’
She told Metro: “His own experience of relying on free school meals to eat brings authenticity and compassion to his campaigning, and his status as a Premier League footballer means people and politicians sit up and take notice.”
The Manchester United forward was first recognised for his charitability last year when he was able to change the course of the UK Government’s decision to provide free meals for underprivileged children during the summer school holidays.
Rashford, who received free school meals himself as a child, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
More recently, however, the footballer was forced to defend himself after it was suggested he had profited from his charitable efforts.
He tweeted that The Spectator Magazine wanted to run the story as he defended his off-field partnerships with brands, asking his followers: “Why can’t we just do the right thing?”
He went on to explain: “Last summer, 1.3M children had access to food support, through my relationship with Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.”
This comes just over a week on from England’s Euros 2020 loss to Italy, which saw Rashford and other black players inundated with racist abuse.
Man with ‘worries’ about the jab told nurse ‘I wish I’d got vaccinated’ before dying of Covid
Glenn had his ‘worries and concerns’ about getting the Covid vaccine
The family of an unvaccinated man who died of Covid have spoken out about his heartbreaking final moments.
‘Gentle giant’ Glenn Barrett, from Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, passed away in hopsital after a three week-long battle with the virus, which he is believed to have contracted while watching an England Euro 2020 game at a local pub.
According to his family, Glenn had been with a group of friends at the pub watching England play Croatia on June 13th. It is understood that, following the match, around seven people tested positive for the virus.
His family have since spoken out and said the fifty-one-year old was unvaccinated because he had ‘his worries and reasons,’ Grimsby Live reported.
However, they said that before he was put into an induced coma, Glenn had a change of heart and told a nurse ‘he wished he had been vaccinated.’
His cousin Ken Meech, who regarded Glenn as a ‘big brother,’ is now urging everyone to get vaccinated when they can.
He said: “If he had [been vaccinated], he would still be with us today.
“I’m not a doom monger or someone who’s telling you what you should do or not do. After all we are suppose to live in a free world.
“But this is one of the saddest times of my life, losing my cousin, Big Glenn Barrett to Covid.”
Describing Glenn as ‘brave,’ Ken explained that his cousin ‘fought until the end’ and, tragically, did have a change of heart regarding the vaccine.
He said: “Glenn had his worries and reasons for not having the jabs but he had no spleen and no immune system to help fight any infections but he did say to the nurses before going into an induced coma he wished he had.”
At the time of writing, 82.4M doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered across the UK, meaning 54% of the population has had at least their first jab.
According to the NHS, all adults over the age of eighteen can now book their own vaccine without having to wait to be contacted by their local GP.
For more information on vaccines and where to get yours, visit the NHS website here.