Police break up house parties in Scarborough borough 'every single weekend'
Scarborough police are having to break up illegal lockdown parties every weekend.
Officers say they are called to at least one coronavirus rule-breaking revelry every Friday or Saturday night, and they are happening all over the borough.
They have made a fresh plea for people to stick to lockdown rules and say those who do not will face tough consequences.
“Every single weekend, every Friday or Saturday night, we are called to at least one house party, if not more,” said Chief Inspector Rachel Wood, Operations Commander for Scarborough and Ryedale.
“It’s everywhere. We’ve had people saying it’s an 18th birthday party or a cousin’s birthday.
“The excuse is irrelevant. They’re putting people’s lives at risk.”
Last week, Scarborough police issued 76 fixed penalty notices for breaking lockdown rules – 47 to residents and 29 to visitors.
The fines to visitors included a group of 11 from Manchester who travelled to look at Whitby Abbey.
Most fines handed out to residents are for illegal parties, said Chf Insp Wood, and to visitors it is usually for non-essential travel.
Police are likely to issue fines to more people at a party than if they stop visitors in a car, she added.
The majority of party-goers fined are in their 20s and are first-time offenders but there have been those who have breached restrictions more than once.
Sometimes people living nearby have called police, reporting noise and people gathering, but officers also gather their own intelligence.
Visitors who have been stopped have given all kinds of reasons for making their non-essential journey.
“We’ve had people coming from Leeds to Scarborough to buy fish and chips, and a woman who came from Lincolnshire to visit McDonald’s,” said Chf Insp Wood.
“We’ve had people coming to the coast to make TikTok videos.”
Since the pandemic hit in March last year, the Scarborough borough has consistently ranked as the district in North Yorkshire handing out the most fines for breaching coronavirus regulations.
Chief Inspector Wood said that ranking is down to a combination of targeted police work, thanks to additional resources, and a multi-agency response taking a proactive approach in detecting people who are not adhering to the restrictions.
There are plans to boost this kind of response, with police announcing last week that more officers would be deployed across the county.
Supt Mike Walker, North Yorkshire Police lead for the force’s Covid-19 response, said it was “frustrating” that people continued to flout the rules.
He said: “Due to the continual Covid breaches which clearly put the safety of the public at risk we are going to respond by deploying more dedicated resources to support the enforcement activity.
“The public can expect to see more resources across communities, the public can have the confidence to report Covid breaches via our website and we will risk assess those reports and deploy resources in response.”
Ch Insp Wood issued a plea for people to stick to the rules and help drive rates down further so that life can return to normal.
“We have all worked so hard to get as far as we have,” she said.
“We’d all like to see our families and friends but by breaching restrictions, people are risking people’s health and putting pressure on the NHS. It’s just not worth it.”