Police have issued more than £18,000 in organiser fines and fixed penalty notices overnight after hundreds of people attended unlicensed events on New Year’s Eve, in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “I’d like to firstly thank everyone across Essex who stayed at home and did the right thing last night.
“You’re protecting our NHS and you’ve allowed us to attend a large number of callouts across the county.
“Unfortunately, there were others who decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people.
“We’ve seized equipment, arrested five people, and issued a large number of fines to those who think this behaviour is acceptable.
“We need you to keep yourselves, other people, and the NHS, safe. Thank you again to everyone who spent their New Year’s Eve in a responsible, legal, way. Stay safe, Essex.”
Officers from the Operational Support Group attended three main locations throughout the course of last night and the early hours of this morning.
The first was a conservation-run church in Thorndon Park, Brentwood, where hundreds of people had gained entry.
In attempting to engage with party-goers, officers had objects thrown at them and were threatened.
The equipment was seized and the crowd was dispersed before midnight.
Three arrests were made, including:
- A 27-year-old man from Harlow, arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, a public order offence, and of offences under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.
- A 22-year old man from Harlow, arrested on suspicion of a public order offence, possession of cannabis, and of offences under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.
- A 35-year-old man from Southwark was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A and possession of Class B drugs.
Officers later seized a generator at an unlicensed event at an abandoned warehouse in Brentwood and dispersed around 100 people. Two people were arrested: one for failing to provide details, and the other on suspicion of drink driving.
A woman was issued a £10,000 fine for organising a house party with around 100 attendees on Bury Road, Sewardstonebury, near Epping Forest.
The equipment inside was seized and police dispersed the crowd, issuing more than 25 fixed penalty notices in the process.