PSNI concern over house parties continuing to take place

A senior PSNI officer has expressed concern at the number of house parties continuing to take place during lockdown in Northern Ireland.

Police issued 168 fines over Friday, Saturday and Sunday - mostly for individuals in respect of illegal house parties.

Nearly one in ten frontline police officers are off duty due to Coronavirus.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd insists that despite the significant pressure this puts on the force, the public should expect to see more vehicle check points and officers in their area in the coming days.

He says it's to ensure people heed the regulations and stay at home unless their journey is essential.

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Assistant chief constable Alan Todd said gatherings in private dwellings remained the key concern of public health experts and, as a consequence, was the main focus of police efforts to enforce coronavirus regulations.

He also insisted officers did have the power under the regulations to enter properties to ascertain whether breaches had occurred, so long as their actions were necessary and proportionate.

"Our biggest concern as a police service reflects the biggest concern from the senior medical advisers, and that is house parties and house gatherings in breach of the regulations where large numbers of people, meeting indoors, with alcohol for prolonged periods of time, creates a significant infection risk," he said.

"The house gathering piece is a keen focus for us, because that's what we've been advised is the key priority for the medical health advisers.

"Where people are deliberately flouting or deliberately breaching or recklessly doing so, they can reasonably expect to be penalised."

ACC Todd also said greater use of overtime spend was helping the police to navigate the impact of the virus on the PSNI's workforce.

He said between eight per cent and 10% of officers were away from frontline duty as a result of positive Covid-19 tests or self-isolation requirements.

"It's not an insignificant impact on our available resource, which is why we've been required to reprioritise some of our taskings and spend additional amount of our budget in supporting our frontline capability," he added.