ALMOST 140 people have been taken to court for not paying fines relating to reported breaches of coronavirus regulations in Dorset.

From the introduction of the sanctions during the early stages of the pandemic up to the end of October, 139 cases had been issued with a single justice procedure notice meaning they were being taken to court for non-payment.

As reported, between March 27 and September 21 this year, Dorset Police handed out 843 fixed penalty notices, but 212 of them were not paid within the 28-day payment period.

If fixed penalty notices are accepted but not paid, they increase by 50 per cent.

Forces also have the option to launch criminal court proceedings through the crown prosecution service.

And Dorset Police has sought this last resort option in scores of cases across the county since the start of the pandemic.

Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya told the Daily Echo police wanted to protect communities across the county alongside helping to protect the NHS.

“The powers are there for us to use if we see fit,” said ACC de Reya.

“What I would say is we are in the middle of a pandemic. We are thinking about the whole community.

“If somebody is not complying and the circumstances are such that we feel that that person is still putting the community at threat then we will actually do something about it. They will be fined.

“We are seeing the fines going through court and the people who have chosen not to pay the fines are going through the court process now and I think that is absolutely right.

“If you have been fined and you know you were going against the legislation then pay the fine because the process is in place for a reason.”

In recent months, reported Covid regulation breaches in Dorset included house parties and businesses failing to comply with the rules.

“For Dorset, we have always had a community across the area that are really good at responding to the legislation and supporting us to keep communities safe and take the pressure off the NHS,” added ACC de Reya.

“There is always that element of people who are not going to comply.

“The issues we have had are mainly around businesses, gatherings, house parties and then there is a threat around raves as well. If you look at those four things, we are really keen, where we do have those breaches, to deal with them proactively.”