Lincolnshire Police have come clean following public pressure about what happened on the night of December 4, 2020, when they broke up a student party in central Lincoln with up to 100 people.
It turns out the £10,000 fine for the student, who they believed at the time to be the organiser, was given in haste as further investigation showed there were multiple parties at the University of Lincoln-run Viking House on Newland, and they were all residents there.
Officers did, however, fine two other people, but couldn’t say for what amount or if they’ve been paid yet, however, they would likely be the starter fines of £80 at the time.
Lincolnshire Police have been secretive for more than a month on progress into the student party investigation.
Questions were only raised when official statistics from the National Police Chiefs’ Council showed the force logged 367 fines between March 7 and December 20 last year.
However, the student’s initial £10,000 fine was not present in those figures.
Then, this week police said the huge fine has been cancelled because they didn’t have enough evidence to prove there was a single organiser of the event.
The embarrassing admission from the Lincolnshire force comes as Assistant Chief Constable Kerrin Wilson said “by and large everybody has been patient,” but that “we do have a number of COVID breaches that are increasing here in Lincolnshire.”
Police said this week that they had issued 576 fines from the beginning of the first lockdown in March until January 17, 2021. This is an increase of over 200 since December 20, meaning almost a third of the fines since the pandemic started were given in the last month alone.
Lincolnshire Police’s full reasoning on the case
Chief Constable Chris Haward said: “All of the FPNs that we issue under the coronavirus legislation are reviewed to ensure that they are proportionate and necessary.
“It is important to ensure that due diligence is in place when considering the legal burden of proof placed on the police – in this particular case the fine of £10k was significant and likely to proceed to a court hearing.
“In this case we latterly discovered an evidential difficulty.
“The ticket had been issued by the attending officer in good faith but this further investigation highlighted that this was not one single pre-arranged party, it was in fact a number of people within the same accommodation building having individual parties.
“There was no evidence to show that any of those in attendance had travelled, and a large number of them would have been classed as a household as they lived in the same corridor of the building and shared various facilities.
“It was an evolving situation that led to a large number of people drinking and socialising within the accommodation at the same time.
“We strive to ensure that our actions are always in the public interest and with public safety at the forefront of our minds.
“The review of the case meant that in these particular circumstances the offence was not in fact as we had at first considered, and as such the only option open to us was to cancel the fine.
“It should be made clear that although this offence could not be evidentially proven, there were still two further FPNs issued to people that night for associating in contravention of the legislation. Those fines still stand.”
When the fine was first issued the University of Lincoln said it was taking the matter “extremely seriously” and it launched an internal investigation.
Meanwhile, police were recently given powers to issue £800 fines for those attending house parties during the coronavirus lockdown, doubling for each incident to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offenders.