London police to crackdown on illegal parties as officers attacked again

LONDON (Reuters) – London police will crackdown on illegal street parties after officers came under attack for the second night running as they tried to disperse an unauthorised gathering, the capital’s police chief said on Friday.

As Britain has begun to ease strict coronavirus lockdown rules, police have had to deal with a number of illegal parties and raves across the country with many people flouting guidelines that only groups of up to six can meet outdoors.

“It’s hot, some people have drunk far too much, some people are just angry and aggressive, and some are plain violent,” London police chief Cressida Dick said.

The events were unlawful and should not be happening, she said, warning: “We will come and close them down.”

On Wednesday night, 22 officers were hurt and a number of patrol cars were vandalised when trouble broke out at an unauthorised music event in Brixton, south London.

Officers came under attack again on Thursday night from revellers throwing missiles in the Notting Hill area of west London, the scene of one of a number of unlicensed music events,

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

Police will be prepared for further trouble this weekend.

“We know that having months of restrictions people have been frustrated and people will want to come together in gatherings but these illegal raves are obviously unacceptable,” Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News on Friday.

This month, big protests by anti-racism supporters have taken place in central London and other cities in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and some counter-demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.

About 140 officers had been injured in the last three weeks, Dick said. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the violence against the police appalling.

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On Thursday, authorities in Bournemouth, a beach town in southern England, declared a “major incident” over what they called the irresponsible behaviour of crowds who had ignored public health guidance on coronavirus and badly overstretched local services.

Visitors arrived in large numbers in a spell of hot weather, resulting in gridlock on the roads, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled fights.

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