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Forces issue dispersal warnings ahead of weekend

Police forces have warned they will impose curfews to ensure the public maintains measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Met said it would focus on unlawful music events that attract large crowds.

Ahead of a weekend of good weather, forces across the country warned they would take action to police lockdown rules following several days of illegal street parties, mass brawls and seaside towns being overrun by people.

The Metropolitan Police issued a hard-hitting statement making clear officers would take action. It followed to nights that saw officers injured while dispersing people from illegal street parties.

Until now, police forces have tolerated large-scale gatherings linked to the Black Lives Matters protests despite the breaking of restrictions of more than six people gathering in one place.

But the recent events – which included multiple stabbings and arrests - have led to a harder line being taken.

Commissioner Cressida Dick, said: “We have seen some large numbers of people completely flouting the health regulations, seeming not to care at all about their own or their families’ health and wanting to have large parties.

“It is hot. Some people have drunk far too much. Some people are just angry and aggressive and some people are plain violent. Tell us about unlicensed music events, we will close them down.” 

She urged people thinking of joining demonstrations this weekend in Westminster to consider other options.

“My message to those considering joining any demonstration this weekend is find another way to make your voice heard. Please consider the danger you are placing yourself and your family by joining large crowds in a situation where social distancing is all but impossible,” the Commissioner said.

Kent Police announced a 48-hour dispersal order will be in place this weekend as part of officers’ ongoing work against reports of disorder and anti-social behaviour in Whitstable.

Despite its reputation as a location for seafood and art lovers, the force revealed it has received a number of reports of people gathering and causing disturbances on the beaches and in the town during the evenings and at weekends including fireworks being set off.

It means anyone found causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress can be made to leave the area. They will risk arrest should they return within 24 hours.

Canterbury Community Safety Inspector Guy Thompson said: “While we understand people feel the need to enjoy themselves and we do welcome people to the town, they must do it responsibly, and with consideration for others.

“Additional patrols of the town will take place this weekend and our message is clear: anyone found to be behaving in a disorderly way or causing problems can expect to have appropriate action taken against them."

Police Scotland, which is also investigating the multiple stabbings in Glasgow, said it will continue to provide a robust response to any potential disorder across the country.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "We are aware of a few planned demonstrations and protests which are due to take place across Scotland this weekend. My message to those who have been involved in the disgraceful scenes witnessed over the last couple of weeks is that if you continue to behave like this then be prepared to be arrested.

"We have a comprehensive policing plan in place with access to additional resources that can be deployed very quickly to respond to incidents of disorder anywhere in Scotland.”

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