Revellers across the country have flouted rules around illegal gatherings to flock to parties and raves over the Bank Holiday weekend.
On Friday new rules came into effect that could see organisers of illegal gatherings of more than 30 people fined up to £10,000, while those who participate could face a £100 fine.
But the threat of hefty fines didn’t deter partygoers, with police forces across the country reporting parties and raves - including one in South Wales that attracted more than 3,000 people from all over the UK.
Thousands of young people descended on the village of Banwen in Neath Port Talbot, with locals saying they were kept awake by loud music throughout the night.
#UPDATE | We have a number of resources in attendance including the helicopter and roads policing officers.— South Wales Police (@swpolice) August 30, 2020
This type of illegal gathering is totally unacceptable & we are aware of the concerns it is causing the local community.
Full statement ➡️ https://t.co/reWUMUxhT5
Chief Superintendent Simon Belcher, of South Wales Police, said “This type of illegal gathering is totally unacceptable and we are aware of the concerns it is causing for the local community.
“I would like to again remind people of their obligations under the current coronavirus legislation and the overarching goal for everyone to take personal responsibility by following Welsh Government regulations to Keep Wales Safe.
“We have a number of resources in attendance including the police helicopter and roads policing officers.
“It has been estimated there are up to 3,000 people at the gathering who have apparently travelled from across the UK and we are looking at all pieces of legislation as to what action can be undertaken safely.
“Unlawfully parked cars will be dealt with and people who continue, despite our advice to try and attend this illegal event area being turned away.”
Elsewhere, Norfolk Constabulary said police found more than 500 people at another rave in Thetford Forest after they were called at about 11.20pm on Saturday by a member of the public who saw large numbers of cars queuing to access a fire route.
Officers found the event taking place in an isolated area of the forest, near to Grimes Graves, a Neolithic flint mining English heritage site.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said they had deployed a number of resources to the scene including a drone, dogs, the National Police Air Service helicopter and specially trained public order officers.
He said: “Coronavirus is still with us and continues to be a real threat so it’s extremely disappointing to see these types of events taking place when the rest of our communities are doing everything they can to help stop the spread of the virus.
“We will work to identify organisers, seize equipment, deal with any criminal offences and impose penalties where evidence is available.”
Elsewhere, eight people were fined £10,000 in Yorkshire after officers broke up several parties taking place in Headingley and Burley.
At one house party, two DJs were fined £10,000 and had their equipment seized while those in attendance were find £100.
Superintendent Chris Bowen, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “I would urge those thinking about organising or attending house parties or unlicensed music events to seriously consider the impact their actions are having not only on themselves, but their family, friends and the wider community.
“Not only are you putting your health at risk, but you are breaking the restrictions and you risk being fined and risk being arrested.”
Officers also seized thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment from an unlicensed music event which was due to take place in Harlow, Essex.
Chief Inspector Lewis Basford also urged people planning to go to an event to think again.
“It’s early in the evening and we’ve already successfully shut down one event, seized the equipment, and will be looking to identify the organiser and take them to court,” he said.
"My final message is to the organisers: we will seize the equipment - I don't care if you've hired it from someone or if it's yours, we will break up your event, and we can now fine you up to £10,000."
West Midlands Police said early on Sunday it had dealt with about 90 reports from the public about possible breaches of restrictions "but we've not had to use our enforcement powers".
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