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Eighteen reckless revellers caught having an illegal house party have been fined nearly £15,000 using new powers under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations.
Essex Police officers attended a house in Bury Road, Sewardstonebury, near Epping at 5pm on Saturday January 30, following reports that a number of people were at the property having a party in a clear and flagrant breach of the current restrictions.
On arriving at the house, which is a vacant rented property, police were initially refused entry from those inside who claimed to be making a music video.
However, officers gained entry and inside found 18 individuals clearly having a party while others were still arriving.
All of those present were fined and sent on their way.
An investigation is now underway to establish who organised the event. Police are also working with partners to put measures in place to prevent the future unlawful use of the property.
All 18 people present – including 17 people from London and just one from Essex – were fined £800 following the introduction of higher penalties last week for those caught attending illegal house parties of 15 people or more.
Following the incident Essex Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills, said: “This party was a clear and blatant breach of the current restrictions which were put in place to save lives and protect the NHS.
“These selfish individuals not only have no regard for their own safety, but they clearly didn’t give a second thought for the safety of the local community, the police officers who had to attend to deal with their reckless behaviour or the NHS who are under unbelievable pressure.
“The legislation exists for a reason, which is to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives. It relies on us working together to drive down the risk of infection.
“The overwhelming majority of people continue to do all they can to support us and help stop the spread of the virus and it is only a selfish few, such as these individuals, who think they can flout the rules with no thought for the health risk posed by their actions.
“But, as the robust action we have taken in this instance demonstrates, Essex Police will simply not tolerate anyone in our county, or visiting our county, who blatantly and flagrantly break the law and put the lives of the people of Essex at risk.”
Essex Police had attended two previous unlawful gatherings at the same property in Sewardstonebury (one on New Year’s Eve and one earlier this month) and an investigation is underway to establish whether all three were organised by the same person.
If you have any information about who organised this event, do the right thing and call Loughton CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
You can report COVID breaches by using the Digital 101 service, where you can speak to ab operator online between 7am and 11pm.
Alternatively you can make a report at: https://www.essex.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/c19/tell-us-about-possible-breach-coronavirus-measures/