TWO police and crime commissioners have criticised First Minister Mark Drakeford for not increasing fines for those found breaking lockdown rules.
North Wales Commissioner Arfon Jones and Dyfed-Powys Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn also called on the First Minister to award police with powers to evict those not staying in primary residences.
Currently, fines in Wales begin at £60 and go up to £120 for repeat offenders. These fines can be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. However, fines in England now begin at £100, reduced to £50 if paid promptly, and can go up to £3,200 for repeat offenders.
Following the representations made by the Chief Constables to the Welsh Government asking for parity of fines with England, Dyfed-Powys Police PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said the commissioners for all four forces in Wales and four Chief Constables would be writing again to the Welsh Government.
Welsh Government said it is not planning to change the fine system in Wales.
Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Arfon Jones said,
“We’ve long called for fines as a deterrent for people travelling into Wales and within Wales, but Mark Drakeford has declined to change the fines.
“The movement of people from more densely populated areas with higher infection rates to more rural communities is create un-needed tensions.
“It feels like communities in North Wales are being left behind and let down, and at a crucial time at that. The local population is understandably anxious about the prospect of rising infection rates, which is already predicted by the health board due to a later peak than in the more densely populated south of Wales. Our priority is to protect these communities.
Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed Powys Dafydd Llywelyn said,
“Our experiences on the ground over the last week following changes and easing of travel restrictions in England, clearly demonstrate that we have to be more vigilant and stricter with fines. We need greater powers to act as a deterrent or to enforce that people do not use second homes.
“Lockdown measures here are stricter but with lower fines. The penalty in Wales doesn’t fit the crime and isn’t working – we had one repeat offender in Llanelli who offended five times and yet the maximum fine will be £120.
“It feels as though the first minister has given us a spoon to cut down a tree.”
Delyth Jewell, Member of the Senedd for the South Wales East region has previously said,
“The message from Wales is clear: Stay at home. The safety of the people of Wales must come first and anyone thinking of driving to Wales to visit a tourist hotspot needs to understand they would be endangering themselves and everyone around them.
“To this end and to protect people from the virus, we must support our police forces by giving them greater powers to make people think again about breaking lockdown restrictions.”