PEOPLE from ethnic minorities were more likely to be given fines for flouting coronavirus lockdown rules, figures show.

Daytrippers from London and elsewhere visited the seafront at Brighton and hotspots like Camber Sands in breach of lockdown rules.

Sussex Police dished out 848 fines between the end of March and the end of May this year.

Some 466 of these – 55 per cent – were to people visiting from outside the county, figures showed.

The figures also showed that people from a black, Asian or ethnic minority (Bame) background were 1.6 times more likely to be fined than white people, police figures showed.

Police said the figure was based on the percentage of the population who are from an ethnic minority background.

Fixed penalty notices were issued by police for those who refused to move on when directed by officers, for those flouting rules about journeys to other counties and for people showing symptoms who refused to stay home and self-isolate.

The Argus previously reported during the lockdown how motorists had made journeys to Sussex.

They included one who travelled from Essex to pick up a bonsai tree, and another who travelled to “look at the stars”.

Police said 382 fines were issued to residents in Sussex and of those 320 (83.8 per cent) were issued to white people, with 59 (15.4 per cent) issued to people identifying as Bame.

Meanwhile 466 fines were issued to non-residents and of these, 329 (70 per cent)were issued to white people, with 128 (27 per cent) issued to those from a Bame background.

Population rates show this is a higher proportion than the percentage population of those from a Bame background in the UK.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Julia Chapman said the force was aware and sensitive to concerns over racism and police bias. The majority of those fined were men and Ms Chapman said the reasons some groups were fined more than others “cannot be fully accounted for”.

She said the data has been referred to the force’s independent race advisory group, and said the force has a commitment to learn and take action.

Officers were only told to hand out fines as a last resort if encouragement, advice and education failed, she said.The temporary deputy said: “In Sussex we have always taken pride in our strong, community-based relationships, working hard to gain the trust and confidence of the public.

“The data shows that the vast majority of fines issued in Sussex, although relatively low overall, were during the peak of the lockdown period when people travelling into the county, many from urban areas, would have been fully aware that it was prohibited.

“The report also notes that those forces with rural and coastal areas, like Sussex, tended to issue higher proportions of fines to non-residents and this is relevant when assessing disparity rates since we know that the BAME population tend to be disproportionately concentrated in metropolitan areas.

“Nevertheless, it does show disparity across gender, age and ethnicity that cannot be fully accounted for and we are particularly conscious of, and sensitive to, the concerns around racism or bias in policing globally.

“We have shared and discussed this information with our independent race advisory group and will further scrutinise this data with them, and other independent community representatives, with a commitment to take action around any learning and ensuring our local communities can be confident that our policing approach is fair.”