Coronavirus UK: Police raid flat hosting huge party for more than 30 guests

4 weeks ago 4

Police today threatened to punish lockdown rule-breakers with fines of up to £10,000 after sharing a video showing officers breaking up an illegal house party.

Leicestershire Police blasted the 'small minority' of Covid flouters who they said were 'making poor choices and putting others at risk from this disease'.

Assistant Chief Constable Kerry Smith also warned that the force would 'use enforcement if rules are broken' as England was plunged into a shutdown last night.

A four-week lockdown is due to end on December 2 but the Government has failed to give a firm guarantee it will not try to extend the measures.  

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to crack-down on lockdown rule-breakers and has ordered police chiefs to ramp up their enforcement of restrictions as she warned the minority must not be allowed to 'endanger' the 'law-abiding majority'.

But she has ruled out breaking up family gatherings on Christmas Day after furious Conservative MPs urged ministers to halt the heavy-handed approach.  

Body-cam footage released today shows officers raiding a party on Atkins Street in Leicester and finding revellers hiding in the bathroom and under the bed.

Leicestershire Police last week revealed that the organiser of the Atkins Street flat party 'attracted' a £10,000 fixed-penalty notice (FPN). A spokesperson for the force would not confirm if the organiser was fined the ruinously large amount. 

But two people in Greater Manchester have each been handed £10,000 fixed-penalty notices this week after officers shut down a wedding and a house party. 

Leicestershire Police blasted the 'small minority' of Covid flouters who they said were 'making poor choices and putting others at risk from this disease'

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to crack-down on lockdown rule-breakers and has ordered police chiefs to ramp up their enforcement of restrictions as she warned the minority must not be allowed to 'endanger' the 'law-abiding majority' 

The Leicester city house party, which is illegal under coronavirus regulations, was broken up by police after neighbours reported loud music.

Officers can be seen entering the flat where more than 30 party-goers were crammed inside. As they start ejecting those in attendance, they discover more and more people hidden in various rooms around the property.

The footage shows one officer going into the bedroom and lifting up the mattress to talk to one person who is hiding under the bed.

The officer says: 'Mate, you're rumbled. You might as well come out. You must be warm under there? Come on then. Out you get. You're sweating under there.'

The reveller replies: 'I'm not sweating. I'm just sleeping.'

Others were found hiding in the bathroom and the footage shows an officer saying 'Oh hello' as several people leave together and sheepishly head for the exit.

The homeowner is then told by the officer: 'I'd very much anticipate a fine coming your way on the basis of what we've seen this evening.'

Body-cam footage released today shows Leicestershire Police officers raiding a party on Atkins Street and finding revellers hiding in the bathroom and under the bed

The gathering, which is illegal under coronavirus regulations, was broken up by police after neighbours reported loud music

A spokesperson for Leicestershire Police said that the force has issued around 515 FPNs since government restrictions were first imposed in March.

Of those incidents, eight people attracted the higher £10,000 fine for the offence of organising or facilitating a gathering under the Health Protection Regulations.

Those breaches took place as follows:

At the Gate Hangs Well Public House in Syston, Leicester on September 25, after a group of around 300 people attended an event;A man and a woman were fined for holding a house party involving more than 30 people at an address in Colton St in Leicester on September 27;Church St, Leicester, a fine was issued to the organiser of a house party where more than 30 people were found to be in attendance on September 28;At an address in Atkins St, Leicester a fine was issued to the organiser of a house party involving more than 30 people on  October 11;The owner of a premises in Ashby Square in Loughborough was fined along with the event organiser after 150 people attended an event on October 13; The owner of a premises in Granby St, Leicester was fined following a music event (officers linked this incident to the event in Ashby Square) on October 13. 

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland blames the PUBLIC for second lockdown - insisting it is because 'people fail to self-isolate when they are told to' as Tory MPs warn PM he MUST unlock England on December 2 because they will refuse to back a third shutdown 

Robert Buckland today blamed the new coronavirus lockdown on people failing to self-isolate when they have been told to as Tory MPs signalled they will not back national restrictions again. 

The Justice Secretary said a refusal to stick to quarantine rules after testing positive or coming into close contact with someone who has was 'one of the reasons' why the Government has had to impose another nationwide shutdown.

He said persuading some people to comply with stay-at-home instructions had been 'difficult'. 

His intervention came as Boris Johnson was 'put on notice' by furious Conservative backbenchers who warned the Prime Minister he will face a much tougher battle in the future if he tries to impose another lockdown

Mr Johnson's lockdown sailed through the House of Commons yesterday as it was backed by 516 votes to 38, with some 34 Tory MPs rebelling to oppose the measures. 

But Tory MPs who reluctantly backed the plan have suggested they are unlikely to vote for similar rules in the future should the Government propose a third national crackdown. 

The value of the fine is dependent on a number of factors including when the fine is paid and the number of offences committed, but can be up to £10,000.  

Today, Assistant Chief Constable Smith said: 'I really want to thank all of the people in Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland who have followed the rules throughout, often in challenging circumstances, to prevent the spread of the virus.

'It is clear to me that the majority take personal responsibility for themselves and their families, understanding that we are all in this together and it is up to us to keep ourselves safe.

'However, the small minority are making poor choices and putting others at risk from this disease.

'Often, my officers are dealing with parties or gatherings, arranged by people who believe themselves to be above the law and prepared to risk spreading the virus to others. This cannot happen. 

'Without your co-operation we cannot contain the disease and although our approach has always been to engage, explain and encourage people, we are now in a position where we must use enforcement against people who take these risks.

'I cannot stress enough that anyone could face a 10k fine from police for breaking the rules. We all want to get life back to normal. 

'However, we have to accept that isn't going to happen right now and those who are breaking the rules are prolonging the agony of others, their actions having an impact on local businesses, the NHS and people's lives.

'I urge people to remain sensible this evening and respect the efforts being made by the many to protect each other.' 

It comes as five northern police chiefs yesterday promised to crack down on the 'minority' who flout Covid rules and put 'lives at risk'. 

Chief constables Darren Martland of Cheshire, Michelle Skeer of Cumbria, Ian Hopkins pf Greater Manchester, Andy Rhodes of Lancashire and Andy Cooke of Merseyside said they will take a 'robust' approach as a 'minority seem incapable of following the rules'.

The areas they cover have been hit the harshest by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Boris Johnson has stressed in recent days that compliance with the Government's Covid-19 rules will determine the effectiveness of the national shutdown.  

Police chiefs including Darren Maitland of Cheshire (left) and Michelle Skeer of Cumbria (reight) say they have seen first-hand the 'misery of the pandemic' and  won't hesitate to issue fixed penalty notices for those caught flouting the new rules

While the police bosses including Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester (left) and Andy Cooke of Merseyside (Right) commended those who have followed the rules, they said they will target those who put 'lives at risk' by hosting parties

Covid figures have sky rocketed in the North West of Enghand including the area covered by Andy Rhodes, (pictured) Chief Constable Lancashire Constabulary

The chiefs' warning: Open letter promising to crackdown on those flouting Covid rules

As the Police Chiefs responsible for the North West we have seen first-hand the misery the pandemic has caused, but we have also seen great support from the majority of our communities. 

We have tried to ensure we have maintained the principle of policing with consent, that sets apart policing in this country from other parts of the world. 

Along with police forces nationally, we have taken a very measured approach to enforcement from the start of the pandemic, recognising the restrictions placed on all our lives were unprecedented. 

We used the 4E’s model of Engage, Explain, Encourage and only as a last resort Enforce, in relation to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for breaching the Coronavirus legislation. 

Sadly we have seen a minority right across the North West who seem incapable of demonstrating any civic responsibility and complying with the regulations. 

We know from focus groups and regional insight work the majority of the public would wish to see the Police Service taking a consistent and robust approach to enforcement. 

Since local restrictions have been necessary across large parts of the North West we have taken a firmer stance on enforcing the restrictions, moving more quickly to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for those deliberately flouting the law and putting lives at risk. 

As we head into further significant restrictions from 00.01 on Thursday 5 November 2020 we wanted to give these collective messages: 

To the majority of our communities who have tried so hard to comply with restrictions, please carry on. 

We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives. 

To the minority who feel the restrictions don’t apply to them be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement. 

We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions, such as self-isolating where necessary. 

Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them. 

We are therefore seeking support from Government and the Judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly. 

Let us all do everything we can to get through this most awful of times and prevent any further suffering across the North West. 

Yours sincerely, Darren Martland, Chief Constable Cheshire Constabulary; Michelle Skeer, Chief Constable, Cumbria Constabulary; Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police; Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable Lancashire Constabulary; Andy Cooke Chief Constable Merseyside Police 

Merseyside and Greater Manchester have seen their coronavirus figures rocket over the past month.

There have been 226,023 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the North West of England since the start of the pandemic.

It has seen the highest number of Covid cases in the nation, reaching 416.1 per 100,000 people, in the last week.

While the police chiefs commended those who have followed the rules, they said they will target those who put 'lives at risk' by hosting parties.

They wrote: 'As the Police Chiefs responsible for the North West we have seen first-hand the misery the pandemic has caused, but we have also seen great support from the majority of our communities.

'We have tried to ensure we have maintained the principle of policing with consent, that sets apart policing in this country from other parts of the world.

'Along with police forces nationally, we have taken a very measured approach to enforcement from the start of the pandemic, recognising the restrictions placed on all our lives were unprecedented.

'We used the 4E's model of Engage, Explain, Encourage and only as a last resort Enforce, in relation to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for breaching the Coronavirus legislation.

'Sadly we have seen a minority right across the North West who seem incapable of demonstrating any civic responsibility and complying with the regulations.

'We know from focus groups and regional insight work the majority of the public would wish to see the Police Service taking a consistent and robust approach to enforcement.

'Since local restrictions have been necessary across large parts of the North West we have taken a firmer stance on enforcing the restrictions, moving more quickly to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for those deliberately flouting the law and putting lives at risk.

'As we head into further significant restrictions from 00.01 on Thursday 5 November 2020 we wanted to give these collective messages.

'To the majority of our communities who have tried so hard to comply with restrictions, please carry on.

'We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives.

'To the minority who feel the restrictions don't apply to them be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement.

'We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions, such as self-isolating where necessary.

'Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them.

'We are therefore seeking support from Government and the Judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly.

'Let us all do everything we can to get through this most awful of times and prevent any further suffering across the North West.'

Meanwhile, the Home Secretary was forced to deny claims by David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, that police would break up Christmas gatherings. 

Mr Jamieson had previously told The Telegraph that officers would investigate reports of rule-breaking over the upcoming holidays.

He said: 'If we think there's large groups of people gathering where they shouldn't be, then police will have to intervene.

'If, again, there's flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce. It's not the police's job to stop people enjoying their Christmas. However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules, then the Government has to explain that to the public.'    

Senior Tory MP David Jones later said: 'All people want is a quiet, happy Christmas with their families. They've had a dreadful year, so let's give them a break.'

And his thoughts were echoed by former party leader Iain Duncan Smith who said: 'It's time for the Government to stand down these jobsworth Christmas turkeys.'

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