Party organisers risk £10,000 fines
From Friday it will be a criminal offence for people organising or facilitating unlawful gatherings.
Those setting up illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more risk a £10,000 fine.
Anyone attending an illegal event can be fined £100. Those who have already received a fine will see the amount doubled on each offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.
The measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions will come into effect ahead of the bank holiday weekend.
Priti Patel, home secretary, said: “These gatherings are dangerous and those who organise them show a blatant disregard for the safety of others.
“I am pleased the police have already stepped up their response and I am giving them the tools they need to continue to keep us safe. We will continue to crack down on the small minority who think they are above the law.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has warned that police forces in England and Wales will continue to increase patrols to prevent illegal gatherings during the pandemic heading into the bank holiday weekend.
In areas of concern – such as Leicester and Greater Manchester – deployments have already been larger than on New Year’s Eve.
Commander Ade Adelekan, NPCC lead for unlicensed music events, said: “We welcome this further deterrent against those who irresponsibly put people’s health and safety at risk by organising these events. Unlicensed music events are unlawful and unregulated. These events are hosted without regard for the safety of those attending, and police have observed cases of anti-social behaviour, sales of drugs and gang activity.
“It is vital that forces obtain information about any illegal events at the earliest opportunity. As organisers are able to spread the word about these events quickly online, timely information about suspicious activity or plans enables forces to plan ahead and take effective action against them.”
In London, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend.
Also on the Friday, fines for not wearing face coverings where it is mandated will double for repeat offences. The fines start at £100 and double to a maximum of £3,200 for each repeat offence, mirroring fixed penalty notices for breaches of other restrictions.
It is mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport, and in many enclosed public spaces including shops, supermarkets and high street outlets unless you are exempt, including on the grounds of age, health or disability.