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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Unlicensed music event organiser handed £10k fine over COVID-19 breach

COVID-19 fine graphic
There are 2 related updates to this story

A man has been fined £10,000 for organising an unlicensed music event in South Gloucestershire at the weekend in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

It was held at an industrial warehouse in Yate, and saw scenes of hostility and violence against police.

We were first made aware of it at 10.35pm on Saturday 31 October by a member of the public. The first officers arrived on the scene within 12 minutes, by which time hundreds of people had already gathered.

Roads were closed and efforts were made to block off the premise’s various entrance points throughout the night to prevent more people gaining access to the site. A secure cordon was in place by 4am at which point it was estimated 500-700 people were inside.

Officers worked throughout the day to shut down the event, seized sound equipment and cleared the area. That happened once they had secured the site, acquired additional support from within Avon and Somerset and neighbouring forces, and devised a plan to protect the public’s safety.

During that operation, officers found a man in his 30s, appearing to clear away music equipment and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of organising the event.

Detectives have since been working around the clock to secure sufficient evidence to issue the £10,000 fine against him, which he was issued with this afternoon. Failure to pay the fine could resort in court action.

When clearing the site, officers prevented equipment being taken away.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “This was a blatant breach of the current COVID-19 regulations and issuing the maximum possible fine under that legislation shows our robust approach to enforcing the law against those who selfishly fail to show any personal or collective responsibility when it comes to the scenes witnessed over the weekend.

“It is hard to adequately explain how reckless it was to organise an unlicensed music event during the midst of a pandemic that has claimed so many lives. We are facing a moment in this pandemic when scientists and medics and warning of the grave risks and consequences of not controlling the virus. Millions of people across the country are making sacrifices every day to protect the NHS, while key workers are doing shifts around the clock to help their communities.

“Yet those involved in this event acted criminally and disgracefully, with no thought for anyone other than themselves. It was deliberately organised in secret with complete disregard to the current situation the country is facing at the moment.

“Furthermore the appalling violence and hostility shown towards the police, the like of which I’ve rarely seen in my policing career, was wholly unacceptable and reprehensible.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh

“The shocking footage we’re releasing today shows the courage of those officers who were simply going about their duties to keep people safe. As soon as we became aware of this event officers worked to prevent it growing and to disperse people as quickly as possible.  

“I want to pay tribute to the officers who responded and I am sure that the body worn video will help give the community confidence in our capability and intention to deal firmly with any such breaches. We’re thankful none of the officers were seriously hurt and that’s in no small part down to the skill of the team on the ground and those working across the force over the weekend.”

In total eight people, aged 17 to 33, were arrested on Sunday for a variety of offences, including violent disorder and assaulting an emergency worker. Enquiries to identify any other offences from the event or individuals involved are continuing.

Chief Constable Marsh added: “We’ve set up an investigation team in response to what happened at the weekend.

“Given the large-scale nature of the operation to deal with the event, there is a lot of information we have obtained that that team needs to go through. This includes taking more statements and continuing to review footage captured by officers’ body worn cameras.

“This work will continue apace as we seek to bring those responsible to justice.

“I would still however urge anyone with footage or information about the incident to get in contact with us if they haven’t already. What may seem like a small detail may have a significant impact on our investigation.”

Anyone with information about the unlicensed event is asked to call 101 and give the call-handler reference number 5220246954.

You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their Anonymous Online Form.

No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.