A POLICE chief has strongly rejected claims that officers in Cumbria were more likely to fine Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people during lockdown.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery, who chairs the multi-agency Cumbria COVID-19 Strategic Coordination Group, said: “I reject any suggestion that officers have dealt disproportionately with ethnic minorities.

“Diversity and inclusion are crucially important to us as a force and we work with independent advisory groups who scrutinise the use of police powers.”

His comments came after The Guardian and Liberty Investigates reported in an article that Cumbria police were almost seven times more likely to fine someone who was of BAME background than a white person.

The figures were obtained thanks to Freedom of Information requests.

Mr Slattery said the analysis failed to consider that almost half of the fines were issued to people who live outside Cumbria. “The stats produced by Liberty Investigates and The Guardian say minorities were 6.8 times more likely to receive a fine, but that is based on a comparison of the figures with the resident population of Cumbria," he said.

Police data shows that of the 334 fines issued during the lockdown, only five were issued to Cumbrian residents of BAME background.

A further 22 were issued to BAME people visiting the county.

Mr Slattery said he had no reason to believe officers were treating any groups differently in their response to community problems.

He added the force was also scrutinised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and regular external audits were carried out.

Mr Slattery said that in the past concerns had been raised about additional stop and search powers used by Cumbrian officers on BAME people in the aftermath of the London bombings.

“Where issues arise we learn from it,” he said.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has commissioned an analysis of force-level ethnicity data which will be published in due course.