Police have vowed to crack down on lockdown rule breakers after hundreds were arrested and fined over the weekend at illegal raves, protests and a child’s birthday party.
Ministers have said they are prepared to escalate police response to incidents following concern that the public are not committed to the lockdown.
At the anti-establishment Million Mask protest in London, where demonstrators were not wearing face coverings, 190 people were arrested. And in Stroud, Gloucestershire, an organiser of an anti-lockdown protest was fined £10,000 after 80 to 100 people attended.
Police issue a dispersal offer as an anti lockdown protest takes place in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester City Centre. Sunday, November 8
Two people were arrested at a protest in Liverpool and four people were arrested in Manchester where 600 people gathered in Piccadilly Garden – 24 fines of £200 handed out.
Elsewhere a mechanic waving an air rifle was shot dead by police after an argument had broken out at an illegal garden party in Swindon, Wiltshire.
The individual was reportedly unknown to the group who invited him to join for drinks, later producing a rifle and threatening the party organiser, sparking a 999 call to the police.
And in Birmingham around 40 party-goers were found crammed into a two-bedroom Walsall flat on Saturday night in what was believed to be a children’s birthday party – fines are to be issued, said West Midlands Police.
A protester holds placards during the Million Mask March in London, Saturday. Organised by the Anonymous movement, November 5
A group of police stand on the road as they patrol around ‘The Million Mask March’, an annual event described as a march “against austerity, the infringement of rights, war crimes, corrupt politicians and to reinstate liberty”, in central London, November, 5, 2020
Police detain a protester during the Million Mask March anti-establishment protest at Trafalgar Square in London, on the first day of a four week national lockdown for England
The Expect Us movement partakes in their annual Million Mask March. London, November 5
Police officers patrol the street during the demonstration. The Expect Us movement partakes in their annual Million Mask March. November 5
Gatherings of more than two people from different households are now illegal in England during the second national lockdown, expected to last until December 2.
A minister told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The message is, ‘We are prepared and the police are prepared to escalate our response on this if there is persistent and wilful breaching of the law.
‘The police will escalate the response if we see repeated and continuous infringements and flouting of the law. The police are ready. We have protocols in place.’
On Saturday evening Leeds District Police were called to disperse a large group of youths who were reportedly rioting in the street in Kendal Drive, causing damage to property, cars, and throwing objects at police officers.
Officers have arrested a male in connection with the incident.
Police speak to anti-lockdown protesters in Liverpool on Saturday. Anti-lockdown protest at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool on Saturday
Hundreds of people are marching through Liverpool city centre Saturday afternoon to protest the UK’s second national coronavirus lockdown
Demonstrators walked past police at St George’s Hall towards Albert Dock, Liverpool, to voice their opposition to Thursday’s closure of businesses deemed non-essential
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Oz Khan of West Yorkshire Police, said: ‘This sort of lawless behaviour is absolutely unacceptable in our communities and a full investigation is taking place into what occurred on Saturday evening.
‘Two police officers were struck by objects and police vehicles were damaged in the disorder which took place, and we are working to identify those involved who will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.’
West Midlands Police wrote in a statement following the busy weekend: ‘We were called to reports of a series of house parties across the region and a number of fixed penalty notices were issued. There were no issues with licensed premises opening and only a handful of public gatherings were reported.
‘We did have to disperse a house party in Caldmore, Walsall, following reports of loud music from a flat. We discovered around 40 people – including a number of children – at a birthday party.
‘They were packed tightly into a two-bedroomed flat, with no social distancing and no wearing of face masks.
‘We took all their details and dispersed the group. Fines will now be issued to those present and we’ve shared the details with the local authority and fire service around safety issues at the property.’
Actor Laurence Fox was also seen breaching rules, joining Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party to lay a wreath for Remembrance Sunday in Hyde Park, in a defiance of lockdown.
But despite this London traffic data from Tom Tom showed that levels had halved on Saturday last week. In Manchester an eight per cent drop in traffic was seen on last week, with a similar reduction in congestion seen in Birmingham.