Thousands of Scots refuse to pay Covid fines totalling almost £300k

Thousands of people across Scotland are refusing to settle Covid fines, totalling almost £300,000 in unpaid penalties.

Analysis of court data reveals £285,000 in arrears to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) from fines issued under coronavirus legislation.

Police were given powers to issue on-the-spot fines from March 2020 when lockdown restrictions came into force.

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The intention was to deter members of the public from holding illegal gatherings or breaching other elements of the stringent controls which had been brought in to stop the spread of the virus. Failing to self-isolate after a positive diagnosis led to a £480 notice.

Police Scotland officers issued on-the-spot fines for breaches of strict coronavirus regulations. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Nearly £1 million in fines were initially issued, but almost a third of that total is now considered “in arrears”.

The SCTS quarterly report showed 3,565 fines issued had received no payment at all.

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The imposition of strict laws across the UK sparked widespread criticisim, with numerous high-profile examples of people being fined for seemingly minor breaches, such as visiting relatives or going for a walk with a friend.

In Scotland, some officers voiced their frustration with enforcing new rules which were viewed as being too punitive by some.

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David Hamilton, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, told 1919 Magazine: “It will be interesting to see how the justice system takes this problem forward.

“Hopefully it won’t see a return to police chasing things up as they did in Covid times, which was often uncomfortable for them to do and worsened relations with some people.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Police Scotland’s approach to engage, explain, encourage and enforce where appropriate and proportionate made a crucial contribution to tackling the pandemic and in building the compliance and confidence of the public.

“Within this context, it was only necessary for Police Scotland to issue a limited number of Covid-related Fixed Penalty Notices as the general public responded to the necessary rules on lockdown in place to protect public health.”

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The issue of uncollected fines handed out for breaching Covid laws is piling additional pressure on courts, which are already creaking due to pandemic backlogs.

The SCTS said earlier this month while some progress is being made clearing delays, it may take until 2026 for the whole system to get back on track.

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