Police breaking up 200 illegal raves every weekend
Police have been forced to disperse up to 200 illegal raves and parties every weekend for the past month as people continue to flout lockdown restrictions.
Officials at West Midlands Police described the gatherings as "breeding grounds for the virus and criminality", with many of the events said to involve drug gangs and other organised crime.
In the vast majority of cases no arrests have been made or fines issued, with WMP adopting a policy of only using enforcement as a last resort.
It came as new lockdown restrictions were announced for Wolverhampton after a rise in Covid-19 cases, while the Government's new 'rule of six' is also up and running.
A report to the Police and Crime Commissioner's strategic board said: "Over the past month, West Midlands Police has received between 150-200 incidents each weekend relating to parties held outdoors and gatherings such as weddings and house parties which exceed the national guidance on numbers of people attending.
"A specific policing response under Operation Reliant was put in place and dedicated resources have attended these calls for service.
"Officers attending those calls for service have been following the Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce (4Es) model and in the vast majority of incidents we have attended, we have not had to resort to enforcement."
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said dealing with the illegal gatherings was "adding to an already huge strain on the force".
"I would urge people to follow the guidance and stay safe from this awful disease.
"Many of these illegal parties are both breeding grounds for the virus but also criminality, with some unfortunately linked to organised crime and violence."
Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the force's approach was underpinned by an understanding of how difficult it was for young people to lose their freedoms.
"We have been able to achieve the effect we have wanted without necessarily using a considerable amount of enforcement."
Mr Thompson has urged people to report breaches online if possible.
"I do need to strongly emphasise that not phoning the 999 system or 101 will be important, because policing activity is now very busy and there is a high demand on services."
Sandwell and Birmingham saw increased lockdown restrictions brought in this week, banning people from meeting others who are not part of their household or support bubble, in homes or gardens.
Dudley and Walsall are also in danger of new measures after cases continued to rise over the weekend.
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