POLL: Should ‘covidiots’ who party or protest coronavirus rules get harsher punishments?

Haverstock Hill: Metropolitan Police break up basement party readers can vote in our poll on whether harsher punishments should be given to “covidiots”. Police have the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices and in some cases arrest rule-breakers.

But before handing out fines, officers will first engage with people in a bid to get them to change their behaviour.

Our poll comes after police made arrests in Nottingham – which is under the highest Tier 4 restrictions – following a coronavirus protest in the city on Sunday.

A Nottinghamshire Police statement confirmed three arrests and 12 fixed penalty notices, adding that it was likely those numbers would rise.

Assistant chief constable Steve Cooper, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: “We had an increased police presence this afternoon as we looked to maintain security and offer reassurance, as well as engaging with those present at the protest including organisers.

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“The police were on hand to make sure the wider public were kept safe and secure and preserve any evidence of any breaches before dispersing the crowd.

“As a consequence, we have made three arrests and issued 12 fixed penalty notices so far, with the likelihood this will rise.”

Meanwhile, arrests were made at an anti-lockdown demonstration in London – which is in Tier 4 – on Saturday.

Hundreds of people gathered in Hyde Park at around 1.30pm.

Most had left by 4.45pm but 17 people were arrested.

The Metropolitan Police tweeted: “Officers continue to engage with groups of people who have gathered in the Hyde Park area.

“A number of people have been arrested under health protection regulations and taken into custody.

“We urge those in the area to leave immediately.

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“Officers will take enforcement action where we see clear breaches of the Tier 4 rules.

“It’s up to all of us to make the right choices + slow the spread of the virus.”

And police were busy on New Year’s Eve despite most of the country being under the highest level of restrictions.

The Met were called to 58 unlicensed music events and parties across the capital.

The force issued 217 FPNs, with a further five people reported to magistrates for consideration for a £10,000 fine.

In Essex, officers handed out more than £18,000 in fines to organisers of unlicensed music events.

Merseyside Police put in place a dispersal zone in Liverpool city centre between 7.30pm on New Year’s Eve and midday on January 1 after someone tried to organise an illegal street party on social media.

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, tweeted: “I am afraid some shocking Covid breaches with very large house parties. Well dealt with by the team. Always a pleasure to spend time with such professional officers.”

It comes as coronavirus cases across the UK are surging, with the prospect of another national lockdown looming.

A further 54,990 cases were reported on Sunday, with 454 new deaths confirmed.

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