London, Aug 23 (PTI) The UK government on Sunday confirmed plans to impose tougher fines of up to 10,000 pounds on illegal gatherings, parties and raves of more than 30 people as part of stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police in England will have the power to enforce these measures starting next Friday, with the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to set their own enforcement rules.
Besides, fines of 100 pounds will continue to be issued to those who participate in such illegal gatherings and those who have already received a fine will see the amount doubled on each offence, up to a maximum of 3,200 pounds.
“These gatherings are dangerous and those who organise them show a blatant disregard for the safety of others,” said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“I am pleased the police have already stepped up their response and I am giving them the tools they need to continue to keep us safe. We will continue to crack down on the small minority who think they are above the law,” the minister said.
In London, Scotland Yard reports responding to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend. Aside from the risk of spreading the virus, the Metropolitan Police warn that many events are linked to criminality and also turn violent.
In Manchester recently a 27-year-old woman, said to be the organiser of large illegal gatherings over two consecutive evenings was issued with a fine for 100 pounds and issued with an anti-social behaviour banning order preventing anyone outside the household from entering the property.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have issued a fresh warning that police forces in England and Wales will continue to increase patrols to prevent illegal gatherings during the pandemic heading into what will mark a long Bank Holiday weekend in the UK from August 28. In areas of concern – such as Leicester and Greater Manchester – deployments have already been larger than on New Year’s Eve, it said.
“Unlicensed music events are unlawful and unregulated. These events are hosted without regard for the safety of those attending, and police have observed cases of anti-social behaviour, sales of drugs and gang activity,” said Ade Adelekan, NPCC Lead for Unlicensed Music Events, Commander.
“It is vital that forces obtain information about any illegal events at the earliest opportunity. As organisers are able to spread the word about these events quickly online, timely information about suspicious activity or plans enables forces to plan ahead and take effective action against them,” said Adelekan, warning organisers of such activity of a risk of prosecution and seizure of equipment.
Under rules already in force in England, it is mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport, and in many enclosed public spaces including shops, supermarkets and high street outlets unless you are exempt, including on the grounds of age, health or disability.
Fines for failure to wear face coverings where it is mandated also doubles for repeat offences, starting at 100 pounds and doubling to a maximum of 3,200 pounds for each repeat offence, mirroring fixed penalty notices for breaches for other restrictions.
The confirmation of enforcement of penalties comes as a further 18 deaths were recorded in the UK on Saturday, bringing the total number of people to have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus to 41,423. PTI AK PMS PMS