Police braced for 'Super Saturday' with warnings of disorder as pubs reopen

29 June 2020, 15:52

Riverton Close in West Kilburn, London, where police were called to an unlicensed music event
Riverton Close in West Kilburn, London, where police were called to an unlicensed music event. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Police are bracing for possible disorder this weekend as revellers descend on reopened pubs and restaurants.

Dubbed “Super Saturday”, bars, cafes and hair salons that have been shuttered since March will welcome socially-distanced customers.

Forces have vowed to crackdown if tempers flare, following attacks on officers at mass illegal raves and block parties in the past fortnight.

Martin Hewitt, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said “people have had frustrations” and that officers will be on notice as people enjoy their “new freedom”.

Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police chief commissioner, warned people they “should expect to face the consequences” if they are violent.

"Some people might say we have been heavy handed and some not firm enough, but I utterly reject that we have gone soft. We are definitely not soft,” she said.

She added: "You will see a lot of police officers out and about next weekend, but there will be many more you will not see, and they will be ready should there be violence or disorder.

"If the public are out of order we will be there, we will arrest people, and we will bring them to court if they have committed a crime."

Some 27 officers were injured in Brixton, south London, on Wednesday night as riot police tried to disperse an illegal block party attended by hundreds.

Three people have been charged and five more arrested in connection with the party, which saw a police car smashed.

The party, whch was in clear defiance of the ban on gatherings of more than six people, was the third night of clashes between police and partygoers following illegal block parties at Harrow Road, Kensal Town. and in Maida Vale.

Further unlicensed music events took place in Notting Hill and Newham in the capital on Thursday and Friday, while scores of officers were sent to break up further illegal raves last weekend at Clapham Common, Tooting Bec Common and Springfield Park, Hackney.

At two illegal raves in Greater Manchester earlier this month attended by 6,000 people, a man in his 20s died from a suspected drug overdose, an 18-year-old woman was raped and three were stabbed.

The scenes of disorder prompted Priti Patel hold emergency talks with Dame Cressida amid growing pressure for the police to clamp down.

The Home Secretary tweeted: “Violence we are seeing is appalling. The police have my full backing in tackling criminality & enforcing the law - criminals will face consequences.”

In a warning to potential trouble-makers this weekend, Mr Hewitt said: “There’ll be policing operations all over the country to deal with the circumstances we find ourselves in.

“People have been locked down for some time, there clearly is some frustration, so whenever this opens up people will want to get out there. But it really is about people thinking responsibly because the virus is still with us and we don’t want situations where we end up having to police levels of disorder and violence.”

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, warned punters it will not be "open warfare" and urged revellers to act responsibly.