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Covid lockdown UK: Police plead with parents after clearing thousands of partying revellers

Police have begged parents to control their children over Easter while a councillor accused revellers of risking a ‘deadly Covid-19 timebomb’ to go off after officers cleared thousands from city centres last night.

Thousands of people crowded central spots in Manchester, London, Nottingham and Leeds on the last day of the UK’s searing 75F mini-heatwave, just days after national Covid-19 restrictions were eased.

Officers were seen clearing drinkers from Castlefield Bowl in Manchester city centre after hundreds gathered for a rave with a live DJ set, while police took similar action in London’s Hyde Park.

In Leeds, fights broke out in Hyde Park while police in Nottingham seized bottles of alcohol from sunseekers and poured it on the grass after ‘appalling scenes’ in the city’s arboretum earlier in the week.

Police forces across the country are now urging revellers to rein in their excitement, with officers from the Harborough and Lutterworth unit in Leicestershire called on parents to restrain their children. 

Harborough councillor Phil Knowles hit out at the hundreds who packed into Little Bowden Recreation Ground on Northampton Road for the third night running, saying it risked ‘exploding a deadly Covid-19 timebomb’. 

Litter pickers were out in force this morning clearing another mountain of rubbish left behind, while furious locals complained of heavy drinking, drug-taking and excessive noise. 

Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire’s police and crime commissioner, said that police believe they can control the crowds if they can ‘get on top of control over alcohol confiscation, and make the people holding it pour it away’. 

The tougher approach to enforcing the rule of six comes amid warnings from experts that throwing out all social distancing could lead to a large spike in infections, even after millions have received vaccines. 

However, police chiefs have warned ministers that the ‘rule of six’ is virtually unenforceable because of the two household concession, which puts no limit on numbers. Across the country yesterday:

  • MANCHESTER: Police cleared drinkers from Castlefield Bowl after revellers gathered for a live DJ set;
  • NOTTINGHAM: Officers seized bottles of alcohol from sunseekers and poured it onto the grass;
  • LEICESTER: Police begged parents to control their children, admitting they ‘could not sort this alone’;
  • HARBOROUGH: Councillor accused revellers of risking a ‘deadly Covid-19 timebomb’ to explode;
  • LEEDS: Police threatened to disperse further big crowds after fights broke out at Hyde Park in Leeds. 

Police officers standing in the Castlefield Bowl area in Manchester City Centre last night after a massive rave

Police officers are seen arriving at the Castlefield Bowl in Manchester City Centre last night as hundreds partied

Police officers are seen arriving at the Castlefield Bowl in Manchester City Centre last night as hundreds partied 

Hundreds of revelers attended a massive illegal rave last night in the Castlefield Bowl, Manchester City Centre

Hundreds of revelers attended a massive illegal rave last night in the Castlefield Bowl, Manchester City Centre

Hundreds of revelers attended a massive illegal rave last night in the Castlefield Bowl, Manchester City Centre

Hundreds of revelers attended a massive illegal rave last night in the Castlefield Bowl, Manchester City Centre

Fighting in Hyde Park, Leeds, as passions boiled over yesterday after a day of drinking following the easing of lockdown rules

Fighting in Hyde Park, Leeds, as passions boiled over yesterday after a day of drinking following the easing of lockdown rules 

Girls were seen dancing in Hyde Park in Leeds as outdoor celebrations continued into the evening yesterday

Girls were seen dancing in Hyde Park in Leeds as outdoor celebrations continued into the evening yesterday 

Police community support officers patrolled Hyde Park in Leeds yesterday, where thousands of drinkers had gathered

Police community support officers patrolled Hyde Park in Leeds yesterday, where thousands of drinkers had gathered 

Police speaking to drinkers in Hyde Park in Leeds, which like other city centre parks was left strewn with rubbish this morning

Police speaking to drinkers in Hyde Park in Leeds, which like other city centre parks was left strewn with rubbish this morning 

Friends speaking to a man in Hyde Park in Leeds as police watch on. Many stayed in the park drinking all day yesterday

Friends speaking to a man in Hyde Park in Leeds as police watch on. Many stayed in the park drinking all day yesterday

Friends speaking to a man in Hyde Park in Leeds as police watch on. Many stayed in the park drinking all day yesterday 

Officers were seen clearing drinkers from Castlefield Bowl in Manchester after hundreds gathered for a rave with a live DJ set

Officers were seen clearing drinkers from Castlefield Bowl in Manchester after hundreds gathered for a rave with a live DJ set

Officers were seen clearing drinkers from Castlefield Bowl in Manchester after hundreds gathered for a rave with a live DJ set

Police officers standing in the Castlefield Bowl area in Manchester City Centre last night after a massive rave

Police officers standing in the Castlefield Bowl area in Manchester City Centre last night after a massive rave

The rave at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester before it was cleared by police last night. Hundreds of people had gathered at the city centre location

The rave at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester before it was cleared by police last night. Hundreds of people had gathered at the city centre location 

Rowdy scenes in Leeds' Hyde Park. Police have said it is getting increasingly difficult to ensure people stick to the rule of six

Rowdy scenes in Leeds’ Hyde Park. Police have said it is getting increasingly difficult to ensure people stick to the rule of six 

The biggest crowds yesterday appeared to be at Woodhouse Moor in Leeds, where hundreds of people gathered – and West Yorkshire Police warned they would ‘disperse groups of over six, using fines where appropriate to do so’.

Elsewhere in the region a 14-year-old boy died after getting into difficulty at a waterfall. He was spotted struggling in a pool at about 6pm yesterday below the Goit Stock Waterfall beauty spot at Cullingworth near Bradford. 

Officers from the Harborough and Lutterworth unit who have been patrolling parks as sunseekers were out enjoying the warm weather after asking for public help. 

Police went between parks yesterday to ‘keep everything under control’ when another drunk child was escorted home and asked parents to consider where their children were and what they were doing.

But last night, during the second night of park patrols, the team begged for help on Twitter, saying they ‘could not sort this alone’. Harborough and Lutterworth team Tweeted: ‘As predicted we are busy between parks and busy with normal demand. We are having to take another child home who is drunk from a park.

‘We have dedicated officers who are going from park to park to try and keep everything under control. We cannot sort this alone, we need your help.’

Cllr Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough council, accused revellers of ‘setting up another Covid-19 timebomb all set to explode’. 

‘The last thing we want to do is to spark off a new wave of infections in Harborough and go straight back to square one,’ he told the Harborough Mail. ‘Can you imagine more people dying, more people struck down – and all of us going back into lockdown? It would be catastrophic.’

He added: ‘This behaviour is so wrong on so many levels. What has got into these people? … None of them were wearing masks or keeping their social distance. How can they think this is right?’

Police forces across the UK are urging revellers to show some restraint. Chief Superintendent Matt Nicholls, from Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: ‘We’re all well aware what is permitted as we ease out of lockdown under the roadmap and I’m grateful to see the vast majority of people complying with the new rules. 

‘Our officers will be carrying out additional patrols across the county over the long weekend, engaging, explaining and encouraging everyone to do the right thing. Enforcement action remains our last resort.’ 

Yorkshire police urged people not to flock to the area over the weekend, while Northumberland police said they were bracing themselves for a surge in visitors to beauty spots. 

Crowds in a park in Nottingham

Revellers lighting a fire in Manchester

Crowds in a park in Nottingham (left) and Manchester (right), where revellers lit a fire and danced around it amid balmy temperatures 

Crowds were persuaded to leave Hyde Park in London last night after police moved in and told crowds to disperse and go home

Crowds were persuaded to leave Hyde Park in London last night after police moved in and told crowds to disperse and go home

Crowds were persuaded to leave Hyde Park in London last night after police moved in and told crowds to disperse and go home 

A man jogs past the litter strewn over the ground at Potters Field Park next to Tower Bridge in central London this morning

A man jogs past the litter strewn over the ground at Potters Field Park next to Tower Bridge in central London this morning 

Potters Field Park is a popular meeting point, especially when the weather is good and even more so as Britain emerges from lockdown

Potters Field Park is a popular meeting point, especially when the weather is good and even more so as Britain emerges from lockdown

The clear up the morning after people were drinking and partying on the steps of the Senedd (the Welsh parliament)

The clear up the morning after people were drinking and partying on the steps of the Senedd (the Welsh parliament) 

Following months of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns the warm weather has seen thousands of people enjoying the outdoors

Following months of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns the warm weather has seen thousands of people enjoying the outdoors

Northumbria Police’s Northern Communities Chief Inspector Ron Charlton said: ‘Anticipating that beauty spots around the area will be popular places for people to meet, we have brought forward a number of initiatives to tackle anti-social behaviour.

‘This includes extra patrols in parks, the countryside and along the coastline. We want to be clear anti-social behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  

West Midlands Police told the i they would continue to engage with the community, but that flagrant rule breakers would not go unpunished. A spokesperson said: ‘Our officers and PCSOs will positively and politely engage in conversation and through explanation or encouragement seek to resolve the breach.

‘If we are faced with significant and blatant breaches with clearly identifiable large gatherings, people can expect to receive enforcement action.’

Warwickshire Police said ‘additional high visibility patrols’ would be deployed over the weekend. ACC Alex Franklin Smith said: ‘We have seen an increase in parties and gatherings in recent weeks, and this is not sensible.’ 

The hot weather which baked much of the UK this week is set to give way to a chilly Easter weekend. Parts of the UK saw temperatures hit almost 24C (75.2F) on Wednesday, with Weybourne, north Norfolk leading the way at a peak of 23.9C (75F).

The figure fell just shy of the nation’s hottest ever March temperature of 25.6C (78F), which was recorded in 1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire. But the warm weather will not extend into the Easter weekend, with temperatures forecast to drop to the low teens in the east of England from Thursday.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said a ‘cold front’ will start moving down from the north, bringing with it colder, windier conditions in stark contrast to the previous ‘warm southerly winds’. 

Police were out in force at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham yesterday. Lockdown rules were partially relaxed this week

Police were out in force at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham yesterday. Lockdown rules were partially relaxed this week

Crowds gathered at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham in the warm weather yesterday. Police were seen ensuring people were following social distancing rules

Crowds gathered at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham in the warm weather yesterday. Police were seen ensuring people were following social distancing rules

Police were seen in Primrose Hill yesterday as Britons rushed to the great outdoors. The weather has been unseasonably sunny this week

Police were seen in Primrose Hill yesterday as Britons rushed to the great outdoors. The weather has been unseasonably sunny this week

Rowdy revellers in Hyde Park in Leeds burst into a heat-fuelled fist fight as they gathered on the grass in the sun yesterday, as the mercury hit 75F (24C) in parts

Rowdy revellers in Hyde Park in Leeds burst into a heat-fuelled fist fight as they gathered on the grass in the sun yesterday, as the mercury hit 75F (24C) in parts

Good Friday is expected to be fine and sunny for much of the UK before developing into rain on Easter Sunday, with the chance of sleet or snow in Scotland and the far north of England.  

Temperatures are expected to bottom-out on Easter Monday, with the mercury likely to hover around 0C (32F) in much of Scotland and north east England. 

The hottest place in Britain by 2pm yesterday was Weybourne in Norfolk which hit 74.5F (23.6C). This was 36.4F (20.2C) warmer than the coldest place in the UK at the same time, Dalwhinnie in the Highlands, with 38.1F (3.4C). 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick urged people to make the most the latest easing of lockdown restrictions in England in a ‘sensible, cautious’ manner, enjoying the sunshine but also being careful and sticking to the rules.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We’ve all waited a long time to meet family and friends outdoors with these very limited freedoms we have now. We just need to exercise caution and be sensible and pragmatic.

‘I think the vast majority of people will do that. They will enjoy the sunshine this week and over the Easter weekend, but they will do that in a sensible and cautious way.’

Mr Jenrick added that people should try ‘to be careful, sticking to the rules’, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted last night: ‘Let’s enjoy the sun but let’s do it safely. We have come so far, don’t blow it now.’

Their comments come after the Prime Minister said he hoped people would take advantage of the ‘beautiful weather’ to play sport or exercise, while also emphasising the country should still ‘proceed with caution’.

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