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Andrews/CFMEU Government drops thousands of Covid breach fines - stiff if you've already paid

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Thousands of unpaid fines for breaches of Victoria’s tough coronavirus restrictions are set to be dropped with police officers instructed to hand out cautions instead.

Rather than proceeding with charges for unpaid infringements, officers have been told to issue cautions in a move that’s bound to infuriate Victorians who have already paid the $1652 fine.

And it means that most people caught breaking the law during the pandemic will be able to avoid a conviction without paying a cent.

The Police Association has also warned the new direction threatens to undermine the enforcement of not just future public health orders but other fineable offences.

Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said it was a “wee bit frustrating” for members.

“None of this was fun for our members, it was a bit of a thankless job to be fair,” he told 3AW radio.

“You need to be careful if you’ve taken to do something you actually do it because otherwise the people that it harms are the people on the front line who are then asked to enforce and hold it all together in a time of crisis.

At least 25,000 coronavirus fines valued at more than $40 million were handed out by Victoria Police during 2020 for breaches of the chief health officer’s directions.

But only 845 of the 19,324 infringements issued by August 24 last year had been paid.