Herts police and crime commissioner David Lloyd warns lockdown offenders as woman is fined £10,000 for organising unlicensed music event attended by 150 people
Residents of Bishop’s Stortford and the rest of Hertfordshire are being urged to stay home or risk being fined for blatant lockdown breaches – as it was revealed on Friday (Jan 15) that a woman who organised a party in the county at which 300 people were expected has been fined £10,000.
Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has recorded a video message praising the vast majority of people in the county who are doing their best to stop the coronavirus spreading.
Since March last year, Hertfordshire Constabulary has issued more than 400 fixed penalty notices (FPNs). Offenders include those attending parties plus drivers and passengers who were not on essential journeys.
Officers were called at around 8pm on Wednesday (Jan 13) to reports of an unusually large number of vehicles parked near a property in South Mimms. They found a large quantity of alcohol in a van and established that an unlicensed music event had been organised.
They found around 150 people in the property along with music equipment, which was seized. A Section 35 dispersal order was put in place and most people left the location.
One person was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. They have since been released on bail. The officer suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Following enquiries, officers identified the event organiser to be a 22-year-old woman from London. She has been issued with a £10,000 FPN for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
In addition, £200 FPNs were issued to 12 people who attended. Police say investigations are continuing and it is likely that more will be issued.
Chief Supt Richard Liversidge, who leads the local policing command, said: “This has been an incredibly fast-moving investigation, with a £10,000 fixed penalty notice now issued to the organiser plus multiple fixed penalty notices issued to attendees, with hopefully more to come.
"Our officers responded to the reports within minutes and were straight on the scene. We hope the enforcement action we have taken so far shows that these coronavirus breaches will absolutely not be tolerated in Hertfordshire.
“Thanks to vigilant local residents, who reported the large number of cars parked nearby, we were able to shut down the event before it had got into full swing – there were around 150 people in attendance when we got there, but we actually believe that the organisers were expecting at least 300 to turn up.
"The key to stopping these kinds of events in their tracks is early intelligence, so please report via 101 if you have reason to believe one is taking place or being planned.
“Finally, I would like to directly appeal to anyone who is planning on organising or attending an event of this nature. Please know that by breaching the current restrictions, you are disregarding all the sacrifices people have made in our national fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.
"The majority of people are playing their part, observing the rules and doing what is necessary to help protect the NHS and save lives. Do not be the person that is making all their hard work redundant. Please do the right thing.”
PCC Mr Lloyd said: “We've been warned that we are entering the most dangerous phase of the pandemic. Our county has some of the highest infection rates – we need to protect our fellow citizens and our NHS.
“While we as individuals play our part, I can assure you that our police officers are dedicated to keeping us safe. On behalf of us all, I thank them for that.
“In addition to arresting criminals as they did before the virus, they are charged with enforcing the new restriction laws. They have a very difficult role in ensuring the treatment of members of the public is balanced and proportionate. Enforcing these laws saves lives.
"Officers have, and will continue to, question and fine those who are blatantly ignoring them. Hundreds of fines have been issued in Hertfordshire during lockdown and more will continue to be given out for those who wilfully ignore the guidelines.”
Mr Lloyd added: “Please remember during these difficult times there is hope. This week one of the country’s seven mass vaccination centres has opened in Stevenage and has already started providing protection for our most vulnerable members of society.
“We are not helpless against the virus – every decision you make either increases or decreases the risks of it spreading and infecting someone else.
“My role is to ensure the constabulary are doing their utmost to protect lives – your role is to stay at home. Please play your part for the sake of us all and protect the NHS.”