Police officers injured breaking up 200 person covid rule-breaker party in west London

23 January 2021, 10:12

By Joe Cook

London police say they broke up two large parties last weekend for breaching Covid rules, with two officers injured as they attempted to fine party-goers.

The Metropolitan Police say they handed out 30 Covid fines on Sunday morning, after being called to a 200 person party at a business in Knightsbridge.

The “flagrant breach” of Covid legislation has been branded “incredibly selfish” by the Met, who say the owner of the address had already been fined previously for Covid rule breaches.

Police say that as they worked to disperse the crowds on the street outside, some “became hostile” and tried to push through to avoid being fined, injuring two officers.

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Superintendent Michael Walsh, of the Met’s Central West Basic Command Unit, said: “We will absolutely not tolerate assaults on police officers. It goes without saying that anyone who harms an emergency worker will face the full force of the law.”

He added: “It deeply saddens me that some individuals have chosen to assault police officers who are simply doing their part in the collective battle against this deadly virus.”

Police were also called to a party on Saturday evening, in the same borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The owner of the venue on Harrow Road is being considered for a £10,000 fine, after at least 30 people were found “socialising in close proximity”.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council say both parties occurred at commercial venues in the West London borough, warning that businesses who “flout the rules will face consequences”.

Councillor Emma Will, Lead Member for Communities, said: “These businesses refused to adhere to the Covid-19 restrictions, disturbing local residents and placing their own customers and the wider public at significant risk again and again.

“Where breaches like this occur our council officers will work with the police, using the full range of both our powers to tackle those who break the law.”

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Household mixing indoors is banned under current Covid rules and police are going to be given greater powers to fine those attending parties from next week.

At a Downing Street press conference on Thursday, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced people attending illegal indoor gatherings of 15 people or more would face a minimum fine of £800.

Currently, fines for attending house parties stand at £200. The £10,000 penalties for unlawful groups of more than 30 people will still only apply to the organiser.

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It comes as Covid case numbers in London have begun to fall, but remain at a very high level. There were 678.7 positive cases per 100,000 people in London, in the seven days to 16 January.

On Friday, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said the situation across the UK remained "extremely precarious".

"A very small change and it could start taking off again from an extremely high base," he said.

"If that happened again, we would be in really, really deep trouble."