The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has welcomed new police powers to issue fines of £800 to people who attend house parties.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Thursday (21st) that the fines for anyone attending a house party of more than 15 people will be introduced in England from next week, under new Covid measures.
These will double for each repeat offence to a maximum of £6,400.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, welcomed the measures.
“In the Westcountry we have, for the most part, a law-abiding population who have been making huge sacrifices to protect the NHS and the most vulnerable in society,” she said.
“It is completely right that police have sufficient powers to deal with the small minority who do not behave in this manner and who put others at risk.”
Currently in England the fine for those attending illegal indoor gatherings stands at £200.
Fines of up to £10,000 for holding large illegal gatherings of more than 30 people will still only apply to the organisers.
Police will continue to follow the strategy of engaging with the public, explaining the rules and encouraging compliance, but the Home Office has warned that in severe breaches of lockdown rules, offenders should expect to receive a fine.
People were reportedly shouting and drinking in the street in breach of the lockdown – which it’s feared is not working as well as it should as Covid cases and deaths spiral.
One local who lives near the address, who wishes to remain anonymous, says this isn’t the first time they had witnessed unruly behaviour.
“I woke up at 3am this morning and there was quite a commotion outside,” the frustrated neighbour said.
“So I looked out of my window, and one of my neighbours said he heard it from about 12am.
“There was quite a commotion outside, arguing and shoving; stuff like that. I didn’t get through to 101 until the police actually arrived because they’d called 999.
“They were there for around half an hour, and when it left then it went quiet. I think it was about an hour afterwards, and it got to the point that my wall was shaking.
“It was so loud, this isn’t the first time, it seems to be every weekend.
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“It breaches all the Covid regulations. It’s ridiculous, at a time when you’ve got people dying and can’t see their families, that sort of thing really frustrates me.”
Elsewhere in the country, the organiser of a wedding attended by around 400 people on Thursday is facing a £10,000 fine, the Metropolitan Police said.
Five other people were handed £200 fines after police were called at 9.14pm to reports of a large gathering at a school in Egerton Road, Stamford Hill.
The building’s windows had been covered to stop people seeing inside, the force said.
Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, central east BCU commander, said: “This was a completely unacceptable breach of the law, which is very clearly in place to save lives and protect the NHS. An NHS that is under considerable pressure at a time when Covid-19 has killed nearly 100,000 people.
“This is a deadly and very dangerous disease. We can all see that and we must act responsibly.
“People across the country are making sacrifices by cancelling or postponing weddings and other celebrations and there is no excuse for this type of behaviour.
“My officers are working tirelessly with the community and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action if that is required to keep people safe.”