MORE than 500 fines have been handed out by Hampshire police for breaches of Covid-19 laws since they came into force, new figures show.

Data published by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) on Friday shows a total of 32,329 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by forces in England and Wales between March 27 and December 21 last year.

A total of 567 of these were handed out in Hampshire for various offences from failing to wear a face covering to breaking international travel regulations.

No fines were handed out for holding a gathering of more than 30 people but 34 fines were dished out to businesses failing to adhere to regulations.

The majority of people fined were breaking local restrictions with 254 people issued fixed penalty notices during local lockdown.

The report said there has been a downward trend in recent weeks following a rise in fines as restrictions were tightened from September, with the national peak of 3,288 coming during the week of the Easter Bank Holiday in April.

The most recent weekly national figures showed 542 tickets were handed out in the week to December 17, compared with 821 in the previous seven days.

Men were handed the majority of the fines in England with 72 per cent of the offenders’ male whilst 44 per cent of the people fined were aged between 18-24.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Enforcement doesn’t and shouldn’t always equal police involvement or the issuance of a fixed penalty notice.”

But he added: “It is right for officers to be inquisitive about why individuals may be away from home.

“Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice and we’ll target our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.”

The figures come after senior officers warned of tougher enforcement during the latest national lockdown in England.

Police have warned people could be stopped by officers to explain why they are away from home, with those breaching Covid legislation “increasingly likely to face fines”.

People not wearing masks when they should be “and without good reason” can also expect to be “fined – not reasoned with”, the force said.

Although the NPCC figures do not cover the Christmas and New Year period, Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Wednesday that more than 800 fines have been handed out for breaches of coronavirus rules over the last two weeks.