Police respond to 700 Covid breaches on New Year's Eve – including party for 50 in Wednesbury

West Midlands Police were called to more than 700 suspected Covid-19 breaches on New Year's Eve – including a party for 50 in Wednesbury.

Warner Road, in Wednesbury. Pic: Google Street View
Warner Road, in Wednesbury. Pic: Google Street View

Residents had been urged by the force to stay at home and stay safe while celebrating the New Year amidst the coronavirus crisis – after the region was placed into the strictest Tier 4 measures.

But despite repeated warnings from senior officers, the force received more than 700 calls from worried members of the public reporting Covid-19 breaches – with 20 fixed penalty notices issued.

Officers from West Midlands Police had to shut down parties being held at addresses in Wednesbury and Birmingham, as well as a gathering at a drive-through shisha lounge in Birmingham.

West Midlands Police's Chief Constable Dave Thompson was also out with his officers on New Year's Eve and said he encountered "some shocking Covid breaches with very large house parties".

He added: "It has been a very different New Year's Eve. The absence of licensing has removed some demand. Sadly too many parties but worth remembering the majority have done the right thing."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said the vast majority of reported suspected Covid-19 breaches were "low-level" and officers spoke to the people they encountered and moved them on.

But, 20 fixed penalty notices were issued and "some significant breaches found".

Just before 11.30pm, officers discovered a large New Year's Eve party being held at an address in Warner Road, in Wednesbury. The occupants of the address initially refused to open the door – before around 50 people ran from the address.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "The homeowner was spoken to and told he will be fined. We will review CCTV and body-worn video to determine if there grounds to issue a £10,000 fine for a deliberate and reckless breach of Covid-19 rules."

Officers responded to concerns that a party was being held at a flat in William Street, in Birmingham city centre, in breach of coronavirus legislation. It is believed up to 30 people may have been at the address – with some running off, having climbed through a window when officers arrived.

William Street, in Birmingham city centre. Pic: Google Street View

The party organiser was fined for breaching Covid rules and several other people ordered to leave the flat and return to their homes.

Shortly after, police were then called to a drive-through shisha lounge in Digbeth, where a significant number of vehicles and people had gathered. The organiser of the event will receive a large fine, a spokesman confirmed.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "But the overwhelming majority of people welcomed in 2021 safely at home, protecting both themselves and others. Thank you for your support and understanding.

"Let’s hope we can all be throwing legal parties later this year."

Speaking about New Year's Eve Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd added: "This year has been challenging and it is not the start to the new year that we we had hoped for. But now we are in Tier 4, we ask you mark the occasion sensibly and not break new restrictions.

"We would normally be celebrating and welcoming in the new year with friends and family, but we must do this differently to keep us all safe."

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