The police clampdown on Covid rule-breakers intensified this weekend, with drivers facing £200 fines after taking a 300-mile trip to the Cotswolds because ‘it is very hard to go shopping in London’ while 19 revellers were fined £15,200 in total after throwing an illegal rave at an Airbnb in Portsmouth.
Officers broke up at least five illegal parties in Hampshire, Wales and London at the weekend, with police in Gloucestershire questioning drivers in Lower Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water before fining them £200 and shaming them on Twitter.
An irritated Cotswold Police tweeted: ‘Another Covid ticket handed out in Lower Slaughter. The drivers excuse for the 300 mile round trip was that it was very hard to go shopping in London. #£200DayOut’. The same force later posted: ‘We thought it was supposed to be lockdown? Apparently not in Bourton?! Two Covid tickets handed out to tourists from London and multiple warnings given’.
The Met Police dispersed an illegal boat party at the back of Powergate Business Park industrial estate on the Grand Union Canal in West London on Saturday, with more than 70 people onboard now facing £800 fines while the organiser was reported for consideration of a £10,000 ‘super-fine’.
In Scotland, two Glaswegians who needed rescuing after attempting to scale Ben Nevis in dark and wintry conditions were fined £60 each for flouting Covid restrictions by driving around 100 miles to Fort William to climb the peak at the weekend.
And in Mark Drakeford’s Wales, officers Officers from North Wales Police’s Conwy and Denbigh Rural unit fined two groups of people who travelled to North Wales from England to go sledging and to ‘capture drone footage’.
It comes just weeks after Home Secretary Priti Patel tightened lockdown rules, announcing that anyone attending gatherings of 15 or more people face £800 fines, doubling for each repeat offence up to £6,400.
PORTSMOUTH: Police and fire attend an illegal house party at an Airbnb where revellers were fined £15,200. One partygoer had to be rescued from a rooftop while trying to escape the police raid
COTSWOLDS: Police tweeted: ‘Another Covid ticket handed out in Lower Slaughter. The drivers excuse for the 300 mile round trip was that it was very hard to go shopping in London. #£200DayOut’ (left). A second tweet said: ‘We thought it was supposed to be lockdown? Apparently not in Bourton?! Two Covid tickets handed out to tourists from London’
BEN NEVIS: Two climbers were fined £60 each for driving 100 miles from Glasgow to Fort William on Saturday. A second pair of walkers also got into trouble on the peak (rescue scene pictured), but did not break Covid rules
It comes as official figures put the death toll at more than 106,000 since the pandemic began last year
What are the rules around gatherings?
Under current Covid laws, you must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
But Priti Patel said people attending illegal house parties will now face £800 fines as police tighten their clampdown on rule-breaking.
The Home Secretary announced the hefty penalty for anyone attending gatherings of 15 or more people as she lashed out at revellers for spreading Covid.
The fines will double for each repeat offence, up to a maximum of £6,400. Hosts of illegal parties are already liable for a £10,000 fine.
The Cotswolds bust came after a group of men were fined by police after travelling to the beauty spot from South Wales over the weekend.
Wildlife crime officer Nick Westmacott said the vehicle was stopped in Bourton-on-the-Water High Street at 11pm.
The officer wrote the vehicle had previously been involved in hare coursing on the A40 at Norleach on Sunday, January 24, and a police national computer marker was placed on the vehicle.
‘Gloucestershire Police Special, in an ANPR equipped vehicle, stop searched the four male occupants for hare coursing evidence,’ he said.
‘Nothing was found, but as they had all travelled from South Wales without a reasonable excuse they were all issued £200 Covid tickets.
‘We have informed Gwent Police who may also want to issue them with Covid tickets for travelling out of Wales without reasonable excuse.’
In Portsmouth, officers handed out £800 fines to 19 partygoers at an Airbnb after breaking up the lockdown-flouting rave.
Horrified neighbours said one man even climbed onto the roof of the terrace house to escape police and then had to be rescued by the fire brigade.
Three men were arrested – one for criminal damage, one for assaulting an emergency worker and one on suspicion of affray.
Dozens of patrol cars descended on the property after outraged locals complained to police about large numbers of young men and women turning up at the house in the North End area of the city on Saturday night.
One neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said many of the women – believed to be in their teens and early 20s – looked like they were ‘dressed for a nightclub’.
He said: ‘It was obvious from the way that they were dressed that those in attendance weren’t heading out for some late night exercise. Many of the girls looked like they were dressed for a night in a nightclub.
Police in Wales fine 20 people for throwing two house parties – just five miles apart
Twenty people were fined by police when two house parties were raided – just five miles apart.
Fines were handed out by officers when they discovered the illegal gatherings within the space of three hours of each other.
The booze-ups were broken up by Gwent Police in Bargoed and Rhymney in Caerphilly, South Wales, on the weekend.
It comes after eight fixed penalty notices were handed to day-trippers in nearby Merthyr Tydfil on their way home from Brecon.
South Wales Police said the group had stopped off in the town on their way home to Cardiff.
Rules in Wales states only essential journeys are allowed and exercise should begin and end at home. Police can issue £60 fines for a first offence.
Meanwhile, Snowdonia is still proving a big attraction despite the Covid bans.
Police said yesterday MON they had given out numerous fixed penalties – including for sledders from England.
They added : ‘Quite a few coming to see the snow, including three from London who wanted some drone footage! And some local people having a party. Come on people.’
‘Their parents need to hold themselves accountable – if they had done more to stop their kids heading out in the evening dressed the way they were, they wouldn’t be waking up to the fines that will need paying.
‘It is this shameful behaviour that brought us to lockdown, and it is the attitude that will keep us here for far longer than is necessary.’
Chief Inspector Rob Mitchell, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘This was a blatant breach of the Health Protection Regulations that are in force to keep people safe during the pandemic.
‘The people attending this party were putting themselves and their loved ones at risk from the virus.
‘It’s actions like this that place increased and unnecessary pressure on the NHS. Anyone who does not follow the regulations faces a fixed penalty notice.’
A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, and another, also 27, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.
A third man was released after being arrested on suspicion of affray and using threatening, abusive words or behaviour.
Another party in Portsmouth involving 25 University students was broken up during the early hours of Saturday morning, with all who attended receiving fines of £200 and being warned that they could be kicked off their courses.
Across the border, two climbers who drove from Glasgow to Fort William were rescued by emergency services after getting into trouble – only to be fined by police.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘We received a report around 4.15pm on Saturday, 30 January, of two climbers in difficulty on Ben Nevis.
‘Members of the local mountain rescue and coastguard teams attended, including air support, and both the men were recovered safely around 5.45pm.
‘There were no injuries and both were issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching coronavirus regulations.’
As the helicopter was returning to base about 6.15pm, it was called back to help with the rescue of another two climbers on Creag Meagaidh.
Members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were airlifted onto the mountain and the men, who were not injured, were helped to safety by around 11pm. It is believed they were experienced local climbers and no Covid regulations were broken.
The mountain rescue team yesterday took to social media to ‘Please continue to respect travel restrictions’.
Their message said: ‘We thought we were heading for our first ever callout-free January but just like buses, two came along at once last night. The first, in Minus 2 Gully on Ben Nevis, was swiftly dealt with.
PORTSMOUTH: Police attend the party at the Airbnb flat in Portsmouth, Hampshire
BEN NEVIS: The pair were rescued by Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and the Inverness-based Coastguard helicopter after getting into trouble on the peak – only to be handed Covid penalties by Police Scotland later (stock picture)
Revellers at £4m Essex mansion rave who tried to con police they were ‘making a music video’ are fined total of £15,000 while 200-person party at Liverpool hotel and gathering of 70 on London boat are also closed down in covidiot crackdown
Fines have been issued to people attending a gym, a hotel and a house party as police enforce new tougher coronavirus regulations for gatherings of over 15 people.
Eighteen revellers were fined nearly £15,000 in total after holding a illegal house party in Essex that breached Covid lockdown rules on Saturday – as party-goers told Essex police they were shooting a music video.
Pictures from inside the £4million party house in Sewardstonebury, near Chingford, which had been rented for the occasion, show countertops littered with vodka bottles, red party cups and drug paraphernalia.
Essex Police raided the property at 5pm yesterday, fining 18 people £800 each – 17 of whom were from London, and one from Essex.
The property, Knoll House, is now under investigation with police being called to break up three illegal gatherings there in the past four weeks.
Eighteen revellers are slapped with fines totalling nearly £15,000 after they were caught holding illegal house party at Knoll House on Bury Road, Sewardstonebury, Essex, on Saturday
Pictures show party light machines (bottom left) and a large amount of alcohol on the counter tops of the rented property’s kitchen
A spokesman for Essex Police said officers attended a house in Bury Road, Sewardstonebury, at about 5pm on Saturday after reports of a party and when they arrived were initially refused entry by people inside who claimed to be making a music video.
The force added: ‘An investigation led by our detectives is now underway to establish who organised the event. We are also working with our partners to put measures in place to prevent the future unlawful use of the property.’
The same property was used to host an extravagant and illegal New Years Eve party for 100 people, which featured a DJ, a fire dancer and alcohol served in large ice buckets by a waiter in a bow tie.
The woman organiser of the party was given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice by Essex Police for breaking strict anti-coronavirus rules.
Police are seen escorting party-goers out of the property in Sewardstonebury on Saturday
Earlier this month police were called to another illegal gathering at the property, and again on Saturday.
Following the incident on Saturday Essex Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills, said: ‘This party was a clear and blatant breach of the current restrictions which were put in place to save lives and protect the NHS.
‘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 second on Creag Meaghaidh was a little more challenging for the eight team members dropped onto the summit plateau but, all in all, a successful rescue with all parties home and safe.’
Malcolm Macintyre, support manager at Braemar Mountain Rescue, urged walkers to ‘keep it reasonable’ during lockdown, and not risk adding additional pressure on the NHS and emergency services.
He said: ‘It’s very difficult. I totally understand why people are trying to get out and do stuff, it’s hard times for everybody, and I feel in a very privileged position in that I live 10 minutes from Glenshee hills, and so I can out my backdoor and go mountaineering.
‘So on one level I understand the frustration that people have got, but I just think for the good of everybody, people have got to do the right thing, so that means sticking to the guidelines and not travelling out of your area.
‘People should be sensible, take it easy, and not push themselves. Save the heroics for when lockdown lifts. Let’s just keep it reasonable just now.’
On Friday, police urged people to follow government Covid guidelines after reporting they had received 46 calls to search and rescue incidents during December and January.
During that time, six fixed-penalty notices were issued and six people were charged with culpable and reckless conduct.
Earlier this month it was revealed two walkers who sparked a rescue operation near Glencoe on Hogmanay were fined for breaching travel restrictions.
A member of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team was injured during the rescue of the pair, who travelled from Oban.
In Ealing, 72 people were handed £800 fines and a £10,000 fine after throwing a boat party. Police were called to Volt Avenue, North Acton shortly after 11pm on Saturday to reports of a large gathering on a moored boat.
The group was dispersed and a total of 72 people were reported for the consideration of fixed penalty notices of £800 for attending an indoor gathering of more than 15 people in breach of coronavirus regulations.
The organiser was identified and reported for consideration of a £10,000 fixed penalty notice.
Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Bowen, of West Area, said: ‘This was a blatant breach of the Coronavirus rules that are in place to save lives and protect the huge pressure on the NHS.
‘All the people who attended this event, which appears to have been organised on social media, have quite rightly been reported for the consideration of fines.
‘The Met will continue to shut down and disperse events such as this, which risk spreading a virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people in this country.’
Officers from North Wales Police’s Conwy and Denbigh Rural unit said ‘numerous’ penalties had to be handed out over the weekend due to people breaking the rules.
They said this included people who had travelled from England to the region for sledging, and a group who had travelled from London to capture drone footage. They also had to deal with locals having a party.
In a post on Facebook, they said: ‘Numerous fixed penalties given out for Covid breaches over the weekend. Some sledders from England.
‘Quite a few coming to see the snow, including three from London who wanted some drone footage! And some local people having a party. Come on people.’
Yesterday, police said a motorist who was stopped by police was found to have drugs in his system and was breaching Covid rules. The driver and two passengers had travelled more than 50 miles from Llandudno to Wrexham while under the influence of drugs, they said.
And on Saturday, the force warned that ‘ignorance is not a defence’ after motorists broke lockdown rules to travel over 200 miles from London to Snowdon.
On Friday, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford issued a warning to people who try to exploit small changes to coronavirus lockdown rules.
People will now be allowed to meet up with one other member from one other local household for exercise, which should start and end at a person’s home.
You can also meet a different person from different households on separate occasions.
However, he warned people looking to exploit the changes, it will only delay the end of restrictions.
Devon and Cornwall Police have even resorted to appealing to the public to snitch on anyone they suspect of flouting Covid regulations.
In an alert message sent from the force, a spokesperson asked the public to report any concerns around Covid-19 breaches through a designated online national reporting form.
‘With the current restrictions in place, Devon and Cornwall Police are seeing an increased demand with reports and concerns around Covid-19 breaches, this is in addition to existing contacts from members of the public who need help,’ the message says.
‘We would like to remind our communities there are many ways to contact us in a non-emergency and any concerns around Covid-19 breaches can be reported through the online national reporting form’.
Walkers enjoying their right to exercise were hit by a ‘freak wave’ during a storm at Chesil Beach in Devon on Saturday night.
HM Coastguard were called to Chiswell, a small village at the southern end of Chesil Beach, to stop people from getting too close to the waves which had caused water and debris to run into the streets. Among those at the scene was Drew Parkinson, area commander for South Devon and South-East Cornwall Coastline.
In a tweet he said: ‘Last night I attended an incident at Chiswell, Portland where three coastguards were injured, one seriously, after a freak wave washed them off their feet as they attempted to clear the sea wall of people watching the seas. Please don’t put yourself, and us at risk for a photo.’
DORSET: Waves damage cars on the seafront at Seaton in Devon as the Environment Agency issues flood warnings
DORSET: Chesil Beach on the Isle of Portland in Dorset was besieged by strong winds and 23ft waves on Saturday night
Referring to their injuries, he added: ‘Unfortunately it’s going to be a long, slow road to recovery for one with potential long-lasting effects but currently in the best place being cared for by our fantastic NHS.’
A spokesman for HM Coastguard told the Dorset Echo: ‘We received a 999 call at 8.10pm yesterday reporting a number of people on the sea wall watching an incoming storm at Chisel on the Isle of Portland.
‘The Portland Bill Coastguard Rescue Team attended to provide safety advice and to usher people from the area.
‘While at the scene three members of the coastguard team were injured due to being hit by a large freak wave. One of these was seriously injured and was taken to hospital by the South West Ambulance Service for treatment.
‘We would urge people to think carefully about the risks they take and be extremely careful during bad weather – piers, rocks, harbours and the water’s edge are not safe places to be. If you see anyone in trouble call 999 and ask for the coastguard.’
Off-road driver who got stuck while trying to take his Land Rover up a Welsh snow-covered mountain and had to be rescued is fined £200 for breaking lockdown rules
Police were forced to rescue a Covid rule-breaker after he got his 4×4 stuck on the side of a snow-covered mountain.
The man faces a £200 fine for disobeying the stay-at-home law and is set to be ordered to pay for the cost of the rescue operation costing hundreds of pounds in public money.
North Wales Police condemned his behaviour as he was illegally off-roading in sub-zero temperatures when he got bogged down and had to phone for help.
A man is facing a £200 fine for breaching Covid travel rules when he had to be rescue by police after getting his 4×4 stuck on the side of a snow-covered mountain in North Wales
North Wales Police Rural Crime Team were dispatched to the hillside – called Worlds End – in the shadow of the 499 metres (1,637ft) Ruabon Mountain near Llangollen.
After hauling him back on to the road, they said he’d broken the lockdown law and it was also illegal because his antics could damage a site of special scientific interest.
A spokesman said: ‘We were called to the Ruabon mountain/Worlds End area where a person had decided to spend some time off-roading (illegally) on a SSSI.
‘Of course they are also in breach of COVID rules and got their vehicle stuck after having slid backwards down a steep hill.’
Police released images showing the vehicle stuck on the snow-covered hillside on January 25.
North Wales Police Rural Crime Team were dispatched to the hillside – called Worlds End – in the shadow of the 499 metres (1,637ft) Ruabon Mountain near Llangollen
Last month, visitors flocked to Brecon Beacons beauty spots prompting Welsh police to warn flouters they would be issued with fines if they were caught out.
Welsh Government guidance is to exercise locally and officers have stepped up patrols to enforce the country’s ‘Alert Level 4’ restrictions.
Police were also forced to stop visitors arriving at Snowden and send them back home as they continued the battle to uphold lockdown rules.
Many were from the north Wales area. However, some had travelled more than 200 miles from London and Milton Keynes to walk their dogs and enjoy the snow.
North Wales Police condemned his behaviour as he was illegally off-roading in sub-zero temperatures when he got bogged down and had to phone for help
Images of parked cars lining the streets of the picturesque Welsh beauty spot came as countless ramblers also flocked to London’s Richmond Park for a brisk winter stroll.
Long queues of cars snaked through the popular walking spot and nearby carparks appeared jam-packed as eager revellers took to the outdoors in the first days of 2021.
It comes after Britain suffered a devastating winter wave of the virus caused by the super-infectious mutant variant first found in Kent.
The new strain sparked a tsunami of infections and hospital admissions that left the UK with the highest Covid death rate in the world.