How we're using the power of persuasion to break up large gatherings
We broke-up a large street party last night (20 May) as more than 100 people flouted the national coronavirus public health orders by mingling in a Birmingham street.
Officers moved in on the gathering – one of the largest we’ve seen since the lockdown was imposed – at 7.45pm in Sandwell Street, Handsworth.
They found people including families with children standing shoulder-to-shoulder and a BBQ providing food for the crowd.
Dozens of cars were parked in a cul-de-sac with many ramped up on pavements.
Our officers moved through the group, telling people such gatherings were in breach of the government’s orders, and instructing them to leave the area.
At one point a woman asked “is CoVID-19 real” – to which the officer replied “it is real” and stressed how the killer virus had already claimed thousands of lives across the country.
The crowd took on board the advice and dispersed; there was no disorder and no arrests.
Birmingham Police Superintendent Gareth Morris, said: “This gathering was unacceptable. It was, in essence, a large street party. Such gatherings are banned at present under CoVID-19 regulations as they pose a very real risk of spreading the virus and costing lives.
“It’s important people take responsibility for their own actions to help curb the spread of the virus. There were several children in this gathering… parents need to be stressing to their children the importance of social distancing to save lives.
“We don’t like stopping people having fun…but everyone has to recognise amassing in large numbers like this, given the current pandemic, is out of order.
“The officers handled the situation really well, engaging with the crowd, educating them on the current restrictions, and ordering them to return home.
“There were no arrests and no fines were issued. However, these people have been warned and if we encounter any further mass gatherings at the location we may well issue on-the-spot fines.”
Our position throughout the coronavirus crisis has been to encourage people to follow the public health restrictions on movement and to educate them if they are not clear on what’s permitted.
However, we will take enforcement action and instruct people to leave a public area when appropriate. To date we have issued around 2,600 instructions to leave an area and handed out 480 fines.
The government’s latest coronavirus orders permit more time for exercise outdoors and the opportunity to meet one person outside of the household, while observing social distancing.
But meeting in large groups is unacceptable and dangerous.
People can report large gatherings or businesses flouting the CoVID-19 regulations via our website or by calling 101.