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Police defend 'proportionate' £200 Covid-19 fines issued to people paying respects to Birmingham pub bombing victims

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West Midlands Police has defended its actions as "proportionate" after reviewing £200 lockdown law fines issued to seven people paying their respects to victims of the Birmingham pub bombings

West Midlands Police has defended its actions as "proportionate" after reviewing £200 lockdown law fines issued to seven people paying their respects to victims of the Birmingham pub bombings

West Midlands Police has defended its actions as "proportionate" after reviewing £200 lockdown law fines issued to seven people paying their respects to victims of the Birmingham pub bombings

West Midlands Police has defended its actions as "proportionate" after reviewing £200 lockdown law fines issued to seven people paying their respects to victims of the Birmingham pub bombings.

The force came under fire over the weekend from two West Midlands MPs, who said it had been "morally wrong" to issue the fines following an anniversary convoy on November 21 last year.

Those sent fixed penalty notices after the event included campaigner Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was among the 21 victims killed in the 1974 IRA bombings on two city centre pubs.

In a statement describing gatherings to mark the anniversary of the attacks as "spontaneous", Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said the fines stemmed from an inquiry into a 15-minute gathering outside West Midlands Police's Birmingham headquarters, which followed the convoy.

The statement read: "We're aware of a letter which has been sent to our Chief Constable by two local MPs. We acknowledge their concerns and would like to use this opportunity to explain our position.

"A number of fixed penalty notices were issued following a gathering outside West Midlands Police headquarters on November 21.

"Following a review, the people present were found to be in breach of regulation nine of coronavirus legislation. This relates to gatherings of more than two people in a public place."

Mr Todd acknowledged that his force had been given notice of a planned convoy of vehicles, which was reviewed in advance and deemed not to be in breach of the legislation.

The senior officer stated: "The organisers were made aware that any gathering would be in breach of lockdown two regulations unless exemptions applied.

"The convoy set off as planned and later paused in Bromsgrove Street, where there was a gathering on foot.

"We spoke to the people present and reminded them that such gatherings were in breach of regulations. They left a little while later and so no further action was taken. However, a short time later members of the same group gathered again outside West Midlands Police headquarters, in breach of lockdown regulations. Approximately 20 people gathered for around 15 minutes before leaving."

Officers present on the day had tried to engage and explain, Mr Todd said, adding that a review had decided that enforcement action had been appropriate.

Belfast Telegraph


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