Police chief lists some of 'most egregious' lockdown-breaching parties

House party organiser who got £10,000 fine for hosting 50-person rave in a marquee despite police telling him not to just hours earlier is among ‘egregious breaches’ listed by police chief as new fines are brought in

  • Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, listed the parties
  • He said Covidiots in Bedfordshire had ignored police’s demand to cancel event
  • Police had given warning after tip-off, but returned to find dozens of partygoers 
  • The event featured a dance floor, disco lights, four speakers, tables and chairs
  • Force has issued 103 fixed penalty notices for Covid-19 breaches over past week

A police chief has today listed off some of the worst lockdown breaching parties thrown by Covidiots, as he promised a crackdown on reckless ravers with increased fines of up to £800.

In one of the worst breaches, described as ‘egregious’ by Home Secretary Priti Patel, officers were called to a venue ahead of a planned party in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Shocked officers found a marquee, speakers and a dance floor prepared ahead of a New Year’s Eve bash.

But despite a stern warning from police not to go ahead with the event, the organisers threw the party anyway. When furious officers returned later that evening they found more than 40 people inside the venue.

In another equally shocking lockdown breach, police broke-up a party of 150 people in Hertfordshire earlier this month.

And it was also revealed how officers were assaulted as they attempted to bust a gathering of 40 people in Brick Lane, London, on Friday.

The shocking details emerged during a Downing Street press conference this evening, during a talk by Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council. 

Police officers wearing face coverings pictured approaching the revellers as they disband the illegal New Year’s Eve party in Bedfordshire

In another equally shocking lockdown breach, police broke-up a party of 150 people in Hertfordshire. They seized DJ equipment at the scene (pictured)

It was also revealed how officers were assaulted as they attempted to bust a gathering of 40 people in Brick Lane, London. Pictured: The Met Police released this image after breaking up a a party in Brick Lane on Friday

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced those who go to illicit events will now face fines of £800, as she lashed out at people aiding the spread of Covid

Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said officers had had to deal with several dangerous parties this week, including one with 150 people in Hertfordshire and another with 40 people in Brick Lane in London’s East End

Mr Hewitt described such events were ‘dangerous, irresponsible, and totally unacceptable’. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel, standing beside Mr Hewitt at the conference, announced higher £800 penalty for people going to gatherings of more than 15 people. 

Fines will double for each repeat offence, up to a maximum of £6,400. Organisers of large parties already face penalties of up to £10,000.

Ms Patel told the press conference: ‘These fines will apply to those who attend illegal gatherings of more than 15 people in homes.

‘The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health.

‘Not only to those in attendance but to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.’ 

Following the announcement, Mr Hewitt reeled off some of the worst offences officers had encountered in the last month.

He spoke about the Leighton Buzzard party, which was captured on bodycam. 

The footage, released by police, shows officers storming in and breaking up the New Year’s Eve gathering. 

In the video, a police officer can be heard shouting ‘get out of the marquee now’ while a female responds: ‘I live here.’

Body cam footage shows police officers storming in and breaking up the illegal party in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, on New Year’s Eve 

Parties, car meets and snowball fights as people ignore the rules 

Southwark house party: Earlier this month Met officers broke up a party at an industrial unit in Southwark, south London, where they found at least 20 revellers on top of the building. Local residents cheered when police arrived.

Two people were arrested, one on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, the other for suspected drug dealing. Five people were handed fines for breaching Covid restrictions

Hertfordshire party: An illegal house party attended by up to 100 people in South Mimms, Hertfordshire, was also broken up by police.

Police seized alcohol and music equipment from the organiser. One officer was hurt while trying to disperse the crowd and one person was arrested. At least 12 people were handed fines

Brent car meet: And over the last week, the Met responded to a bar which was still open and serving customers. In Brent, 14 people attended a car meet, intentionally breaking the rules and potentially spreading the virus.

In both of these cases, fixed penalty notices were issued by officers

Leeds snowball fight: Around 200 youngsters took part in a snowball fight in Hyde Park, Leeds, on Thursday 

Oxfordshire leisure drive: Three friends from Oxfordshire who drove 21 miles to visit Cotswolds have been fined £200 each

Devon surfing: Devon police have slammed a group who travelled from London to Woolacombe on Thursday in a camper van to go surfing

Nottinghamshire lock-in: Pub owners, staff and four customers have been fined after the venue was found serving alcohol inside

Bedfordshire Police handed the organiser a £10,000 fine. Chief Superintendent John Murphy had previously labelled the event a ‘huge breach’ which showed ‘a total lack of respect’.

Speaking about the event in the Downing Street Press Conference today, Mr Hewitt said: ‘Officers were called to a site that had been set up for a large party, where they had a dance floor and speakers.

‘As part of our “Engage, Explain and Encourage” approach, the organiser of the event was given advice and told that the event was not to take place.

‘But when officers checked later in the day, 50 people were there. Again, a £10,000 fine was issued.’ 

Mr Hewitt also spoke about a 40-strong party in Brick Lane, London, where revellers turned on police as they attempted to break-up the event.

Officers were called to the property, understood to be hired out via AirBnB, after neighbours reported hearing loud music. 

Police found as many as 40 people cramped inside the property, where a struggle broke out with officers.

Mr Hewitt told the Downing Street press conference this evening that two officers were injured, while a third needed hospital treatment – for a broken finger. 

He said drugs were found at the property and that arrests were made and fines issued.

In a third lockdown breach listed at the press conference, Mr Hewitt said police broke-up a 150-strong party in Hertfordshire.

The event took place in the South Mimms area on Wednesday, January 13.

Officers discovered a group of around 150 people, along with music equipment such as amplifiers and a DJ set – all of which were seized. 

Mr Hewitt said: ‘Neighbours contacted us after seeing an unusual number of cars outside. Multiple fines were given in that example, equipment was seized and sadly, again, an officer was injured.’

Despite strict lockdown laws banning such large gatherings, they have continued to take place.  

A woman who organised an event in Sewardstonebury involving a fire dancer and an entertainer was fined £10,000. 

Elsewhere in the county officers broke up an illegal rave at an abandoned church in East Horndon and another at a warehouse in Brentwood.  

As part of the Home Secretary’s new crackdown, adverts have been produced with an image of partygoers covered in yellow tape which warns of the £800 penalty

Police raided several parties in Manchester over the weekend.

Fines were handed out on Saturday night to partygoers at an address in Hulme, and at a property in Greengate, Salford, where police responded to reports of 30 people attending. 

Social media photos showed people at the Greengate party drinking champagne and dancing close together. 

More photos from a party in Cheetham Hill showed around 20 officers raided a party of more than 50 revellers. 

It comes after police launched a New Year’s Eve crackdown on party-goers.

The Met Police said officers were called to 58 unlicensed events on New Year’s Eve and issued 217 people with fixed penalty fines.

Five people could receive £10,000 fines for organising large gatherings across London, the force said.

Fines were handed out on Saturday night to partygoers at a property in Greengate, Salford, where police responded to reports of 30 people attending

Police raided a house party of 50 at an address in Manchester last night, though it is unclear if anyone was arrested

Social media photos showed people at the Greengate party drinking champagne and dancing close together

Police also fined 49 petrolheads earlier this month for breaking Covid lockdown after they were caught speeding round a roundabout at an illegal Romford car meet. 

Meanwhile Greater Manchester Police say they issued 105 fines to revellers over the weekend, compared to 66 in Brighton and Hove. 

Mr Hewitt today said large gatherings such as house parties are ‘dangerous, irresponsible, and totally unacceptable’.

‘I hope that the likelihood of an increased fine acts as a disincentive for those people who are thinking of attending or organising such events,’ he said.

Mr Hewitt added: ‘When we see people that are putting themselves and others in danger, we will not waste time trying to reason with them. They are demonstrating no regard for the safety of others, or even for themselves.’   

At the same conference, NHS England chief for London Dr Vin Diwakar compared breaking the rules to turning on a light in the middle of a blackout during the Blitz.

Homes were forced to go dark during the Nazi bombing campaign in 1940 and 1941 to avoid lights accidentally helping guide bombers to their targets.

‘It doesn’t just put you at risk in your house, it puts your whole street and the whole of your community at risk,’ Dr Diwakar said.

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