Police attended Prophecy gym on Gaskill Road, Speke on Sunday 7 February, following reports that it had been open despite current Covid restrictions.
Officers attended at around 1pm and observed people gathered inside. Officers remained at the location to observe comings and goings from the gym and issued multiple fixed penalty notices for Covid breaches.
They also observed that the fire escapes at the rear of the gym were locked and contacted Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to investigate potential breaches of fire safety regulations.
While patrols were outside, a 34-year-old man became aggressive, swearing at officers and refused to co-operate with attempts to engage with him.
Police subsequently received reports from a member of the public that up to 50 people were being held against their will at the rear of the gym, in an effort to prevent them from being detected by police.
At around 7.05pm around 40 people attempted to leave the scene via the previously locked fire doors, with some driving away at speed and further patrols attended.
Several of those attempting to make off from the scene behaved aggressively towards officers. Police detained a number of them.
A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
A 33-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment.
The 34-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and on suspicion of careless and inconsiderate driving. He was released on conditional bail.
The 24-year-old man and 34-year-old woman have been released under investigation.
A total of 52 people were issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching Covid restrictions.
The gym has been issued with a Closure Notice by Liverpool City Council.
Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “At Merseyside Police, extensive training is given to officers around the importance of using force lawfully and proportionately, and thankfully, for the vast majority of interactions with the public, force is not required.
“The decision to use force is never taken lightly, and in cases where it is appropriate, officers must often make quick, split-second judgements where there is a risk of harm. During this incident, the use of force was judged necessary by officers in response to people’s behaviour.
“Officers should not be confronted with abuse and violence when attempting to uphold the law which most people are rightly abiding by.
“We are currently in a national lockdown which means people should not be leaving their homes for non-essential reasons or meeting up with other people outside their household or support bubble.
“Flouting Covid rules in this manner is not acceptable. Some people at the gym in Speke on Sunday had travelled from as far as Manchester. All attending were not only breaching Covid regulations but putting themselves, their loved ones and their wider communities at risk of catching and spreading coronavirus.
“As well as policing Covid rules, throughout this pandemic officers at Merseyside Police have continued to work to tackle all crime including serious, violent and organised crime to help keep our communities across Merseyside safe. Having to deploy officer to incidents like the scenes we saw in Speke last night puts an unnecessary strain on our resources but we will not hesitate to act where the irresponsible actions of a few threaten the welfare of the many.
“I would urge everyone across Merseyside to continue to work together and abide by the rules to help us tackle this deadly virus and hopefully we can return to normality more quickly by doing so.”
You can report any matters concerning COVID-19 and the current legislation to us @MerPolCC or through Merseyside Police’s website https://www.merseyside.police.uk/.