HAMPSHIRE police issued more than 500 fines for breaches of coronavirus laws during the first nine months of the pandemic.

New figures show that 567 fixed penalty notices were handed to businesses and individuals in the county between March 27 last year and December 20.

That compares with the 169 fines issued in Humberside and 3,034 in Northumbria.

Now, with the number of Covid-related deaths totalling more than 1,000 a day, Hampshire residents are being to comply with the regulations.

Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, said: "It’s a shame that any fines have to be handed out at all but sadly people are still not following the rules.

"The government are not asking people to comply - it’s the law.

"The more people ignore the rules the more people become infected and the more people will die.

"We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel but people must follow the rules until the vaccination programme is complete.”

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, said a minority of people were not following the rules put in place to keep everyone safe.

“That puts pressure on an already stretched police force who have to administer these fines, not to mention they risk spreading the virus and putting further strain on the NHS,” he said.

“I urge those who haven’t been following the rules to be more responsible and keep themselves and others safe.”

Nationally more than 32,000 fines have been handed out since the Covid-19 laws came into force, according to the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

Between June 15 and December 20 958 people were penalised for failing to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice and we’ll target our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.”

The figures come after senior officers warned of tougher enforcement during the latest national lockdown in England.

Although the NPCC figures do not cover the Christmas and New Year period, Home Secretary Priti Patel has revealed that more than 800 fines have been handed out for breaches of coronavirus rules over the last two weeks.

Other figures published by the NPCC show total crime was down 12% in November last year.

Mr Hewitt said: “Crime remains lower than at the same point last year. However, the demand on the police service is significant."