Police break up New Year parties as hundreds flout coronavirus rules

Police had to clamp down on unauthorised New Year gatherings as partygoers flouted warnings to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Essex Police said they issued fines of more than £18,000 overnight.

They said hundreds of people attended unlicensed events, endangering themselves and others and putting extra strain on the NHS on New Year's Eve.

Five people were arrested after the illegal parties were broken up by officers.

It comes after local authorities in Essex declared a “major incident” as the number of coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm health services in the county.

Police broke up a party in a conservation-run church after people broke in at Thorndon Hill near Brentwood Credit: Essex Police

In Norfolk, police had to break up an illegal rave at Ludham in the Broads.

Suffolk Police said they had a quieter night though and thanked people for largely following the rules.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said he'd like to thank the vast majority of people in Essex who stayed at home.

“We need you to keep yourselves, other people, and the NHS, safe. Thank you again to everyone who spent their New Year’s Eve in a responsible, legal, way. Stay safe, Essex.”Officers from the police Operational Support Group attended three main locations throughout the course of last night and the early hours of this morning.The first was a conservation-run church in Thorndon Park, where hundreds of people had gained entry. In attempting to engage with party-goers, officers had objects thrown at them and were threatened.We gained entry, seized the equipment and dispersed the crowd before midnight. Three arrests were made, including:A 27-year-old man from Harlow, arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, a public order offence, and of offences under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.A 22-year old man from Harlow, arrested on suspicion of a public order offence, possession of cannabis, and of offences under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.A 35-year-old man from Southwark was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A and possession of Class B drugs.Officers later seized a generator at an unlicensed event at an abandoned warehouse in Brentwood and dispersed around 100 people. Two people were arrested: one for failing to provide details, and the other on suspicion of drink driving.A woman was issued a £10,000 fine for organising a house party with around 100 people on Bury Road, Sewardstonebury.Police seized the equipment inside and dispersed the crowd, issuing more than 25 fixed penalty notices in the process.A dispersal order remains in place until midday today, Friday 1 January.

Essex Police also broke up an illegal party was broken up in Sewardstonebury. Credit: Essex Police