Between Friday 14 and Sunday 16 August 2020, GMP recorded 863 incidents related to Covid-19. Of these, 62 related to licensed premises.
Officers also proactively visited 250 premises and engaged with licensees and patrons to ensure that the required health and safety precautions were in place. In the majority of cases, they were found to be being compliant. However, a small minority who were not have been reported to the relevant licensing authorities who will engage further and establish whether or not enforcement is required.
Throughout this global pandemic, GMP has been policing by consent. When responding to reports of breaches, officers have been engaging with people; explaining the restrictions to them and encouraging them to be compliant going forwards. Enforcement has been a last resort.
Since local restrictions were placed on Greater Manchester, there has been an unacceptable increase in the requirement for enforcement. Since Friday, GMP has taken the following action in response to breaches:
- Two closure orders have been issued following large gatherings at properties in the Gorton and Oldham areas. Under the Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, closure orders prohibit access to the premises by anyone except residents.
- Road closures have been used to disperse a large gathering in the Rusholme area. A number of businesses were also encouraged to close voluntarily to assist.
- 14 Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued. Recipients include a landlord who rented his property for a party and the organisers of a wedding in the Whalley Range area.
GMP’s Deputy Chief Constable, Ian Pilling, said: “I would like to start by thanking those who are complying with the local restrictions and by saying that we understand this is a difficult time for people across Greater Manchester. However, I do not condone the behaviour which our officers have had to respond to this weekend – it is completely unacceptable.
“Between Friday and Sunday, we received in excess of 800 reports of breaches of Covid-19 restrictions. These are in addition to the thousands of emergency and non-emergency reports which the force receives every weekend. This is obviously increasing demand on our services and means that officers might be dealing with a gathering when we receive a report of a critical or major incident.
“We simply will not tolerate this selfish behaviour, which is demonstrated by the enforcement action we have taken this weekend and are prepared to take in future. When breaches are identified, officers have a number of options including issuing fixed penalty notices which result in fines and anti-social behaviour closure orders which prohibit anyone, except residents, entering a property for up to three months – this includes outside areas.
“Covid-19 is still a real risk to people and we all have a responsibility to follow the rules to protect as many of our loved ones as possible. The rules are easy to follow and I strongly encourage anyone who isn’t 100 per cent sure about what they should and should not be doing to read the explanation on the Government’s website – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/north-west-of-england-local-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do.”