A group of 18 “reckless” revellers have been fined almost £15,000 after police caught them throwing a house party in breach of coronavirus lockdown rules.
Essex Police said officers found the group inside a house in Sewardstonebury at about 5pm on Saturday after receiving reports of a party.
When police initially arrived they were refused entry to the house by the people inside, who claimed they were making a music video, the force said.
The 18 people inside the property - 17 from London and one from Essex - were fined £800 each in line with new harsher penalties announced in January by Priti Patel.
Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said: “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 force said an investigation is underway to establish whether two previous unlawful gatherings at the vacant, rented property were organised by the same person.
Fines were also handed out in other parts of the country as officers broke up gatherings that breached the latest COVID rules.
In Merseyside, police issued fixed penalty notices to 19 people who were found in Shred Fast Gym on Long Lane in Aintree at 10.30pm on Saturday.
The force, which has reported the business owner to the local authority, said the people found at the gym were not wearing PPE or social distancing and had travelled from areas including Billinge, Widnes, Wirral and Southport.
20 people on yoga mats burning pieces of paper with negative thoughts written on them have now been given new pieces of paper by @MerseyPolice with the words ‘fixed penalty notice’ printed on them. Seriously, if we don’t back the ‘lockdown’ we are all in it for longer.
— ACC Rob Carden (@ACCRobCarden) January 31, 2021
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden wrote on Twitter: “Twenty people on yoga mats burning pieces of paper with negative thoughts written on them have now been given new pieces of paper by @MerseyPolice with the words ‘fixed penalty notice’ printed on them.
“Seriously, if we don’t back the ‘lockdown’ we are all in it for longer.”
Police also found around 200 people at a hotel in Liverpool city centre where four parties were going on, the force said.
A spokesman said officers found around 200 people at the Richmond Hotel at 3.15am, with 13 fixed penalty notices issued, 11 documented warnings given and everyone who was not a legitimate guest at the hotel removed.
One woman was arrested on suspicion of breaching coronavirus legislation and two counts of assaulting a constable and a man was arrested as he was wanted, the force said.
Watch: Fines for house parties introduced in England as restrictions tighten
Chief Superintendent Matt Boyle said: “This sort of behaviour is unbelievable and unacceptable and officers should not be confronted with abuse and violence when attempting to uphold the law, which most people are rightly abiding by.”
In London, 72 people were reported for the consideration of £800 fixed penalty notices when officers were called to a party on a moored boat in North Acton, Ealing, shortly after 11pm on Saturday, the Met Police said.
A spokesman said the organiser of the event, which appeared to have been arranged on social media, was identified and reported for consideration of a £10,000 fixed penalty notice.
According to the latest coronavirus regulations in England, which came into force at 5pm on Friday, people caught at house parties with groups of more than 15 people can face fines of £800 which will double after each offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown