POLICE in Cheshire appear to have all but stopped issuing fines for breaching coronavirus lockdown measures in the past two months.

According to new figures, a total of 197 fixed penalty notices for breaching lockdown rules had been handed out by Cheshire Police by July 20.

That was the same figure that had been reported on June 25, and just four more than the 193 reported on May 25.

It is a similar picture across England, where just eight fines in total were handed out between July 7 and 20 – including six for failing to wear a face covering on public transport.

Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: “As expected the number of fines police forces are issuing continues to fall as lockdown restrictions are further eased.

“However there are still some restrictions in place and they remain important for the protection of the public’s health and wellbeing. Police will continue to engage, explain, encourage and only as a last resort will we use enforcement.

“We all need to continue to be personally responsible and follow the rules, whether that be around face masks in shops or very large gatherings. By following the rules we are all doing our bit to prevent the virus spreading.”

Cheshire Police has repeatedly told residents that it would only use enforcement on coronavirus rules as a last resort.

The reminder has come from the force following each new rule or easing of lockdown, including the reopening of shops and pubs, and the introduction of mandatory face coverings in stores.

Supt Julie Westgate said: "Covid-19 has not gone away and it is essential we continue to do all we can to reduce the spread of this virus.

"Everyone needs to play their part and take personal responsibility by ensuring they follow the guidance.

"While police do have the power to issue fines to anyone who breaches the legislation – this will be a last resort and we are relying on the goodwill of the people of Cheshire in sticking to the rules."

National analysis of the issuing of fixed penalty notices has suggested that black, Asian or minority ethnic people are 1.6 times as likely to receive a fine for breaching coronavirus rules than white people.

However, the analysis in Cheshire shows that fines across the county have been issued at the same rate as the county's population.

Figures up to May 25 were analysed by the National Police Chiefs' Council and showed just seven fines were handed to people who were black, Asian or minority ethnic at that time.