Lancashire police raid party where 30 Edge Hill University students were caught flouting Covid rules

Police have raided an ‘absolutely ridiculous’ house party as 30 revellers breached coronavirus restrictions for a birthday bash.

Officers were called to Ormskirk in Lancashire at 2.45am on Sunday to break up the rave allegedly hosted by ‘bored’ Edge Hill University students.

Some escaped by climbing out a window but the organiser – a 20-year-old woman – was given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice and nine others were fined £800.

One man – Sam Taiwo, 23, from Sheffield – is due in court in April after he was arrested and later charged for shoving an officer.

It comes as a barbershop owner was left red faced when he answered a call from a customer while talking to police and officers shut down an unofficial football match.

Meanwhile the most ‘outrageous excuses’ for breaking Covid rules have been revealed after one police force dished out more than 190 fines in a week.

Two men were fined after they travelled over 50 miles from London to Hove claiming they needed to buy a pair of headphones.

Officers were called to Ormskirk in Lancashire at 2.45am on Sunday to break up the rave allegedly hosted by Edge Hill University students

Officers were called to Ormskirk in Lancashire at 2.45am on Sunday to break up the rave allegedly hosted by Edge Hill University students

Officers were called to Ormskirk in Lancashire at 2.45am on Sunday to break up the rave allegedly hosted by Edge Hill University students 

Footage from the Ormskirk raid showed one reveller pleading with an officer he wants to ‘go home’.

The officer replies: ‘Yeah well, you didn’t want to go home two minutes ago. You can wait here for now until we’re ready to deal with you.’

Another complains, ‘it’s not my house’ with the officer responding: ‘We’re in Covid. So you shouldn’t be here.’

Officers are then seen explaining to the organiser – a 20-year-old woman – that the party has breached Covid regulations.

‘It’s not worth £10,000,’ she complains to an officer. ‘It’s not worth £10,000, you’re right,’ he replies.

New rules under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations allow police to issue the increased fine to anybody attending a house party of 15 people or more.

Taiwo, 23, from Sheffield, has since been charged with assaulting a police officer and is due at Preston Magistrates’ Court on April 1.

Lancashire Police Supt Karen Edwards said: ‘This weekend new Coronavirus regulations were introduced, enabling police to issue increased fines to those in attendance at larger house parties.

‘Officers who attended the party in Ormskirk used these powers, and as a result several fixed penalty notices were given out.

Some escaped by climbing out a window but the organiser - a 20-year-old woman - was given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice and nine others were fined £800

Some escaped by climbing out a window but the organiser - a 20-year-old woman - was given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice and nine others were fined £800

Some escaped by climbing out a window but the organiser – a 20-year-old woman – was given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice and nine others were fined £800

New rules under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations allow police to issue the increased fine to anybody attending a house party of 15 people or more

New rules under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations allow police to issue the increased fine to anybody attending a house party of 15 people or more

New rules under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations allow police to issue the increased fine to anybody attending a house party of 15 people or more

‘This party was a blatant breach of the current restrictions, which are in place to prevent the virus from spreading and to keep everybody safe.

‘It is unbelievably selfish for anyone to believe they are exempt when so many law-abiding citizens have not seen their friends and family properly in almost a year.

‘The people in attendance also gave no thought to the safety of the local community or the officers who had to attend to break up the gathering, not to mention the NHS which is under immense strain.

‘It is also shocking that an officer reported being assaulted while dealing with the aftermath of the event.

‘While we are continuing to spend most of our time dealing with crime and keeping people safe, we must stress that incidents like this take us away from that and take up officers’ valuable time.

‘We have always taken a proportionate approach to breaches of the regulations – educating, explaining and engaging first, with enforcement as a last resort – but when people blatantly break the rules, as with this party, we have to take it seriously and take a firmer approach.

‘As always, we would like to say a huge thank you to those who are following the law and are doing their bit to keep everybody safe.

‘We all want lockdown to end, and for normality to resume, and we are grateful to the majority who are working with us to make that happen.’

Lanashire Police said over the course of the weekend they received a total of 517 calls about Covid-19 breaches and 181 tickets were issued.

The majority of these incidents were house parties, checks on behalf of the Border Agency and businesses not complying with the regulations.

An Edge Hill University spokesman added: ‘We are fully co-operating and working closely with the police to establish the details.

‘This is completely unacceptable behaviour and we will be taking appropriate action in line with our disciplinary procedures.

‘We cannot pre-empt the outcome of these investigations or predict any final sanctions that might be imposed, however the University is able to exclude students in the most serious cases.’

In Kent, video from a barbershop showed a man taking a call from a customer saying ‘Hello, I’m out back’ as officers confront him for breaching coronavirus regulations.

The owner answered the phone while the officers were standing next to him and the exchange was caught on bodycam.

Nearly 1,000 fines have been issued by Kent Police since January 1, with other breaches including an an unofficial football match for more than 20 people on Sunday.

In Kent, video from a barbershop showed a man taking a call from a customer saying ‘Hello, I’m out back’ as officers confront him for breaching coronavirus regulations

Man charged ‘for posing as a policeman to issue bogus fine to two women’

A man has been charged after allegedly posing as a police officer to issue a bogus fine to two women for breaching Covid-19 regulations.

Martin McCarthy, 29, is said to have approached the elderly victims near to the Stratford Centre, in east London, at around midday on Friday.

He allegedly told them they had breached coronavirus regulations before escorting them to a cashpoint, where he asked for £500.

The Metropolitan Police said the incident was seen by police officers, who arrested the suspect.

McCarthy, from Bow, in east London, appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with impersonating a police officer and blackmail, and was was released on bail ahead of a hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on March 1.

The Metropolitan Police have issued a warning to the public to be on the lookout for coronavirus-related scams.

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Police bodycam footage shows two officers arriving at the barbershop in Northfleet last Wednesday after receiving reports of a business breaching regulations.

They speak to a man, who confirms he is the owner. One says to him: ‘I’ll level with you, sir. You’re not doing appointments for people still during lockdown are you?’

He initially says no, but later says: ‘I’m not cutting much, honestly.’

The man’s phone rings and the caller appears to say ‘Hello, I’m out back’ and ‘You rung me earlier’. One of the officers is seen going to the back door to take a look.

Later, the officers say to the owner: ‘You quite clearly just had a customer phone you up.

‘He arranged an appointment with you to come cut his hair earlier on. So you are quite clearly still cutting people’s hair.’

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: ‘Whilst it is encouraging that the rate of infection is falling and more people are being vaccinated, now is not the time to drop our guard and be complacent, we are not yet at the stage where lockdown can be relaxed.

‘We will not hesitate in taking action against those who blatantly ignore lockdown measures and put some of the most vulnerable members of our community at risk.’

Kent Police were also called to the unofficial match on Sunday afternoon which saw most of the team run away.

The players had managed to squeeze through a hole in the fence of the closed sports venue in Dartford.

But a number of the group were met by officers as they returned later to collect personal items from the pitch.

Some of the men had travelled from outside Kent to play in the game.

Bodyworn camera footage shows the officer telling three players: ‘So you’re not even in the right county. Come on man. Especially non-essential travel as well.’

He then tells them they are being reported for breaking lockdown rules of unnecessary travel and congregating in a group of more than two people.

They all received a £200 fine each and ordered to leave under law or face receiving another fixed penalty notice.

Kent Police were also called to the unofficial match on Sunday afternoon which saw most of the team run away

Kent Police were also called to the unofficial match on Sunday afternoon which saw most of the team run away

Kent Police were also called to the unofficial match on Sunday afternoon which saw most of the team run away

Three fined after trip to Land’s End see the sea – but fails due to rain and thick fog

Three people who drove 160 miles to Land’s End were fined by police and did not get to see the sea because of pouring rain and thick fog.

Penzance Police revealed they caught the trio at the most south-westerly tip of Britain after they drove from Bridgwater in Somerset.

It is a round trip of six hours – or 320 miles – going back and forth across the entire length of Devon and Cornwall.

Not only did all three get slapped with fines when they arrived, but Land’s End was enveloped in thick fog and rain.

Police said on Facebook: ‘We issued Covid-19 fines recently to three people who drove from Bridgwater to Lands End to see the cliffs in wet and foggy weather conditions.’

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In nearby Suffolk, hundreds of mourners reportedly defied a Covid limit of 30 to attend a burial in Newmarket.

They travelled from all over the country to the town’s cemetery, where Prissy Willett, 89, was interred yesterday in a family plot with her mother and father-in-law.

The limit was observed earlier at a funeral service in Chesterton, Cambridge, but not at the burila itself.

Coronavirus rules mean a maximum of 30 people can attend a funeral and face masks must be worn in the church and in cemetery grounds.

Matthew Lymn, a director of Nottingham-based funeral director A W Lymn, said: ‘We had 30 people at the funeral service in Chesterton and the family knew 30 people was the maximum allowed,.

‘The deceased had a very large family. We tried to work with the police and the council asking them to close the cemetery to all but the immediate family but they said they could not do that because it was a public space. The police were forewarned but they did not turn up.

Mourners had travelled from all over the country to attend the burial which was organised by Nottingham-based funeral director A W Lymn.

‘My advice to the family was that people should not be coming to the service which was live streamed.

‘Unfortunately for a burial you are in a public space and when the cortege arrived at the cemetery there were already 50 cars parked on the side of the road.

‘We did everything we could to dissuade people from coming and the family is sorry to anyone who has been upset by this.’

In Essex members of a conservation group supporting a 500-year-old church that was trashed during an illegal rave on New Year’s Eve say they have been ‘blown away’ after receiving more than £22,000 in donations to help with repairs.

Hundreds of party-goers attended the event at Grade II* listed All Saints Church in East Horndon, Essex, and three people were arrested.

Essex Police said organisers set up DJ decks, a bar, and even hired portable toilets for revellers.

Volunteers said the ravers smashed a window, wired sound equipment into the church’s fuse box and churned up the ground outside with vans, causing around £1,000 of damage.

A month later the Friends of All Saints group said £22,254 has been raised by members of the public to help with clean-up operations and repairs.

Police are trying to identify a 'reckless' rave host whose unlicensed New Year's Eve party saw hundreds of revellers trash a 500-year-old church in Essex (the aftermath pictured)

Police are trying to identify a 'reckless' rave host whose unlicensed New Year's Eve party saw hundreds of revellers trash a 500-year-old church in Essex (the aftermath pictured)

The aftermath of the illegal Essex rave

The aftermath of the illegal Essex rave

Police are trying to identify a ‘reckless’ rave host whose unlicensed New Year’s Eve party saw hundreds of revellers trash a 500-year-old church in Essex (the aftermath pictured)

Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church in East Horndon - a Grade II-listed building - said they are 'devastated' by the damage caused (rubbish pictured in the church) and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000

Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church in East Horndon - a Grade II-listed building - said they are 'devastated' by the damage caused (rubbish pictured in the church) and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000

Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church in East Horndon – a Grade II-listed building – said they are ‘devastated’ by the damage caused (rubbish pictured in the church) and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who 'decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people,' after police in Essex broke up an illegal gathering at an abandoned church in Thorndon Park (pictured)

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who 'decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people,' after police in Essex broke up an illegal gathering at an abandoned church in Thorndon Park (pictured)

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who ‘decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people,’ after police in Essex broke up an illegal gathering at an abandoned church in Thorndon Park (pictured)

Astrid Gillespie, 48, a volunteer for the Friends of All Saints, said: ‘We are completely blown away by the public’s generosity and support following the illegal rave and at such a difficult time for everyone.

‘The amount of money raised is completely unbelievable and we are so grateful.

‘The clean-up and repairs have started, and we are looking forward to being able to carry out other repairs that would have had to wait years otherwise.

‘We are looking forward to being able to hold a rededication service and open day to invite everyone in and share this beautiful historic building with the community when we are able to.’

Friends of All Saints said 80 per cent of donations had been passed on to the Churches Conservation Trust for the repairs and 20 per cent would be kept by the organisation for future maintenance of church grounds.

Here are some of the ‘outrageous’ excuses for breaking lockdown:

  • Two men who travelled from London to Hove to buy a pair of headphones
  • A woman who travelled from London to Brighton for a photo shoot
  • People who attended a gathering at Forest Row, despite an earlier warning
  • People attending a 21st birthday party in Brighton
  • An unofficial football match for more than 20 people in Kent
  • A barbers continuing to operate despite lockdown rules
  • A man was charged after allegedly posing as a police officer to issue a bogus fine to two women
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On the night of the incident officers reported having objects thrown at them as they attempted to disperse crowds and three men were arrested for drug possession and offences under coronavirus regulations.

Meanwhile Sussex police has had 776 calls in the last week with people making excuses about businesses staying open, household mixing, mask wearing, parties and unnecessary travel.

Two men were fined after they travelled over 50 miles from London to Hove claimed they needed to buy a pair of headphones.

Another woman said she made the one hour and 45 minute journey down from London to Brighton for a photo shoot.

Valid reasons for venturing outdoors are limited to food shopping, exercising, going to work, seeking medical care and attending school or child services.

People have been fined for attending a gathering despite being warned by police last week they were breaking the rules.

A 61-year-old was arrested at the event for refusing to comply with officers and provide his details.

He was fined another £50 after pleading guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on February 2.

Meeting someone outdoors is only permitted if they are a member of your household or support bubble.

Others have been fined for attending a 21st birthday party in Brighton – a clear breach.

Sussex Police has issued 192 fines over the past week, or more than 27 a day. Penalties in England and Northern Ireland start at £100 for first time offenders.

The amount then doubles for each further offence committed up to a maximum of £6,400.

Superintendent Julia Pope, who is leading the policing operation for the pandemic said: ‘In the last week we have had to issue 192 fixed penalty notices which, considering we have been in a pandemic for almost a year now, is completely unacceptable – and some people are making light of their reasons for being out and about.

‘When you see the shocking videos of people battling Covid, having lost a loved one or NHS colleagues on their knees, I think most people would support this view.

‘The vast majority of the fines we have issued have been for those attending house parties, meeting up with friends and family indoors or travelling without a reasonable excuse.

‘We had to break up a second illegal gathering at a location in Forest Row, despite the group being told last week that they were breaching covid legislation.

‘The gathering plainly does not meet the criteria for a charitable or benevolent exemption within the law.

‘I know all of us are missing seeing friends and family but a gathering of this kind, in the current environment, is not permitted.

‘We acknowledge the frequently changing legislation can sometimes make it difficult for everyone to fully understand what you can and cannot do and this is why our officers will always first engage with people, explaining the rules and regulations and encourage people to change their behaviour accordingly.

‘We urge everyone to take responsibility for their actions and do the right thing by following the legislation and where there are breaches, fines will be issued.’

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