Police to target illegal parties and music events breaking COVID rules
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 26/03/2021
Large indoor parties and unlicensed music events will be targeted by police in England and Wales in the weeks ahead, as the country comes out of lockdown.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has warned that, even as COVID restrictions are eased, large indoor gatherings will still be illegal for some time to come.
The warning comes as official figures reveal more than 94,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued in England and Wales for breaches of coronavirus laws since restrictions were introduced a year ago.
The total processed in England is now 85,975, while 8,393 were issued in Wales.
The latest provisional figures show that 25,416 fines were processed in the past four weeks, which is a slight drop on the previous month.
Some 284 fines of up to £10,000 were issued for those organising large gatherings and 1,647 fixed penalties of up to £800 have been handed out to those organising gatherings of more than 15 people.
Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said he was encouraged by data showing the number of fines had been decreasing in recent weeks.
But he stressed: “A small number of people continue to defy the rules, putting themselves and others at risk of the virus.
“It is particularly frustrating to see the groups of selfish and irresponsible people organising and attending illegal parties and unlicensed music events.
“They clearly have no regard for the rules and we will move quickly to enforcement in these cases.”
Police chiefs have condemned a number of recent events, which they say highlight the health risk posed by such gatherings.
The Metropolitan Police said officers were called to an incident in Southall in west London, after an illegal rave was set up inside a disused bank in the early hours of Sunday 7 March.
Officers found 44 people who had made their way through a gap in the fence into the building to set up DJ equipment with speakers.
Three illegal parties were shut down by Leicestershire Police in the early hours on Saturday 27 February.
Police said they were forced to disperse large crowds from all three events and 35 fines were issued.
From Monday, organised protests will be permitted outdoors, subject to social distancing rules and the wearing of face masks.
However, Assistant Commissioner Hewitt urged those planning to attend a number of protests this weekend to reconsider.
He warned the planned events in cities including Bristol, London, and Nottingham would still be illegal under coronavirus regulations.
AC Hewitt condemned the violence at a “Kill the Bill” protest in Bristol last Sunday, which he said had resulted in injuries to 40 police officers.
People attended with the intention to “deliberately confront police and cause violence and damage”, he said.
“It is not remotely acceptable for someone to attempt to set fire to a police vehicle with an officer still inside the vehicle.”
The assistant commissioner said the months ahead would be particularly “challenging for police”.
The easing of COVID-19 restrictions would bring with it a release of frustrations, with many more people on the streets as weather improves.
“As the rules change in the coming days, weeks and months, we can expect crime, including violent crime, to return to pre-lockdown levels,” he said.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman said that all forces had been preparing their policing plans for the post-lockdown period and he urged people to continue complying with the rules that are still in place, as other restrictions are eased.
© Sky News 2020