Nearly 40 people arriving from red list countries have absconded from Covid quarantine hotels in the West Midlands.
A total of 38 people broke quarantine between mid-February and the end of August, according to figures released by West Midlands Police on Tuesday.
Covid measures mean passengers arriving from red list countries, where the coronavirus case rate is high, must quarantine at designated hotels for 10 days on their return, costing £2285 per solo traveller.
Breaking quarantine rules can result in a fine of up to £10,000.
The UK Government first announced the hotel quarantine measures would come into force on February 15, initially affecting arrivals from 33 nations – though that list has since changed.
Chief Superintendent Richard North, of West Midlands Police, told the force’s strategic policing and crime board on Tuesday about how many absconders had been recorded and how officers had dealt with those who had fled the hotels.
He said: “During the pandemic, we had to make decisions about people who had absconded from their hotels.
“We would prioritise those cases and track them down and they would be issued quite expensive fines.”
He added that once tracked down, not every absconder would be returned to a hotel due to the risks of possible further Covid transmission.
North said: “We did have individual cases, because they’d gone back to a private dwelling where they were self-isolating, where actually to expose officers to that and then the potential to get them to the hotel again was problematic.
“Ultimately the deterrent was created by virtue of the fact they would receive a high-level fine – that was just a function of the Government’s policy.
“What I can say in terms of those absconding is they were treated as a priority.”