Police ‘frustrated’ by order to drop unpaid COVID-19 fines

Broadcast by 3AW on 18 January 2021

Police have been instructed to drop most of the unpaid fines issued for COVID-19 breaches.

More than 19,000 penalty notices were handed out for breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directions in 2020.

Now, police have been ordered to issue cautions for all but the most serious breaches.

Victorian Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt says the change is “a wee bit frustrating” for police.

“None of this was fun for our members. It was a bit of a thankless job,” he told Ross and Russel.

Mr Gatt says he’s concerned the change in direction may make it harder for police to do their jobs in future.

“You need to be careful that if you say you’re going to do something, you actually do it, because the people that are harmed are the people on the front-line that are then asked to enforce and hold it all together in a time of crisis,” he said.

“If you make it a systemic understanding with offenders that police are going to take a template model … the withdrawal or discontinuance of matters then what you potentially do is … make that enforcement job of the police a little bit harder.

“We don’t want to do that.”