Almost 900 fines have been handed out by police for breaches of Covid-19 laws in Sussex since they came into force, figures show.

Data published by the National Police Chiefs Council shows a total of 892 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by Sussex Police between March 27 and December 20.

Of these, 865 were issued for breaches of coronavirus laws brought in during the first few months of the pandemic, one was linked to the tiered alert system introduced in October, and 11 to the national lockdown which began in November.

Police forces across England and Wales have issued 32,329 FPNs since March, though the NPCC said there had been a downward trend in recent weeks.

The peak occurred during the Easter bank holiday in April, with 3,288 handed out that week.

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

Although the NPCC figures do not cover the Christmas and New Year period, Home Secretary Priti Patel said last week that more than 800 fines had been handed out over the previous 14 days.

She also defended the way police have handed out fines for lockdown breaches so far, warning that officers “will not hesitate” to take action.

Ms Patel said: “The vast majority of the public have supported this huge national effort and followed the rules.

“But the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules to ensure we safeguard our country’s recovery from this deadly virus.”

Of the fines in Sussex, there were seven for failing to wear a face covering when required, and four for breaching international travel rules.

There were also two for breaking business regulations and one for gatherings held of more than 30 people.