PRITI Patel has tonight announced fresh £800 fines for ANYONE attending illegal house parties – rising up to a total of £6,400 for repeat offenders.
The Home Secretary announced the tough crackdown on ravers holding banned parties during the national lockdown – as police chiefs blasted their selfish behaviour.
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Launching a fresh crackdown which ministers hope will drive down cases, Home Secretary said tonight: “Next week we’ll intro a new £800 fine for those attending house parties, doubling for each repeat offence to a maximum of £6,400.”
It will apply to any gatherings of more than 15 discovered by cops.
Brits will fined £800 for their first offence, rising to £1,600 for their second, £3,200 for their third, up to a maximum of £6,400 if they are caught at four or more house parties.
She went on: “The science is clear – such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health.
“Not just to those in attendance but also to police offices who shut them down.”
Police chief Martin Hewitt said those people organising parties were “selfishly putting lies at risk” and police would no longer “waste time trying to reason with them”.
He said tonight: “We have repeatedly made it clear that house parties and other large gatherings shouldn’t be happening.
“They’re dangerous, irresponsible and totally unacceptable and 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.”
250 £10,000 fines have been issued since late august to people who have organised large parties, he revealed.
He also told of several parties officers attended recently.
One in Brick Lane, London, 40 people were cramped inside and were hostile to police when they tried to shut it down.
Three officers were injured and one even has to go to hopsital.
Another in Hertforshire saw nearly 150 gathering with music equipment and amplifiers too.
One cop in Bournemouth who attended an anti-lockdown protest had since had to go to hospital for Covid-19 treatment – laying bare the shocking risk frontline officers are dealing with
The latest crackdown comes after a worrying study last night showed the start of the lockdown has failed to drive down cases like before.
The React study by Imperial College London carried out swab tests on 142,900 volunteers between January 6 and 15 and found one in 63 people now have the virus across England – up 50 per cent on the last report in December.
The Home Secretary will beg Brits to follow the rules and may threaten even tougher action if the numbers don’t start to come down.
Ministers are doing regular press conferences to keep the public updating during the third national lockdown – which is due to last until at least the middle of February.
Earlier this week the Home Secretary said it was a “long way” until restrictions can start to be lifted.
She will be accompanied by Martin Hewitt, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London.
Boris Johnson warned today that the new coronavirus strain is “much more contagious” when questioned whether the lockdown may not be eased until the summer.
The Prime Minister told reporters: “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions.
“We’ll look then (February 15) at how we’re doing but I think what we’re seeing in the ONS data, in the React survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas – there’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.
“It’s not more deadly but it is much more contagious and the numbers are very great.”
He said it is “absolutely crucial” to obey the current restrictions “in what is unquestionably going to be a tough few weeks ahead”.
It comes as:
- Yesterday 1,820 deaths were recorded and 38,905 positive cases despite Brits being told to stay at home
- But Matt Hancock revealed that 5million jabs had been dished out to 4.6million people now
- Gavin Williamson said he would give schools two weeks notice for reopening again
The concerning new React study shows London was the worst hit area with one in 36 residents of the capital infected with Covid.
Worryingly, it found cases did not drop over the ten day survey – unlike the start of the previous two lockdowns.
Scientists think the new, more contagious mutation may be to blame, and warn infections may not fall unless we do more.
Lead researcher Professor Paul Elliott, from Imperial College London, said: “Our data are showing worrying suggestions of a recent uptick in infections which we will continue to monitor closely.
“Infections must be brought down; if prevalence continues at the high rate we are seeing then hospitals will continue to be put under immense pressure, and more and more lives will be lost.”
However, this morning Gavin Williamson insisted that the pressure on the NHS is being seen.
He told Sky News today: “The evidence that we’ve been seeing is that it’s actually, it has been having an impact in terms of relieving some of that pressure on the NHS.”
Ministers were said to be mulling tougher rules earlier this month – which could include banning people meeting up for exercise, closing nurseries or halting non-essential click and collect services.
It’s unclear whether a new crackdown will be on the cards as the death numbers and case figures still remain stubbornly high.
The new variant – which spreads more easily – is largely to blame.
But ministers also fear the lockdown rules are not being obeyed as strictly as the other shutdowns.