Seven arrested at illegal gatherings after police vow to take action
Seven people have been arrested and two weapons seized by police at illegal gatherings in London in the past 24 hours.
The arrests include two people in Newham who were carrying a firearm and a “Rambo-style” knife respectively, the Metropolitan Police said, after tackling unlicensed events across the capital for a third consecutive night.
Meanwhile, five people were arrested at another music event in Third Avenue, West Kilburn, including two for attacking police officers. The Met added two officers were injured overnight but did not require hospital treatment.
It comes after Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick vowed to shut down events that flout health regulations.
Officers were called to Newham at 4.50pm on Friday after receiving reports from concerned residents about a sound system being set up in Hoskins Close by a large group of people.
Three more people were arrested in Third Avenue on suspicion of violent disorder, a breach of Covid health regulations and racially aggravated public order towards officers.
Two other people were arrested at the same event for attacks on officers – one for throwing a bar stool at an officer, who was uninjured, and the other for racially abusing an officer.
Commander Bas Javid, of the Met’s frontline policing team, said: “All of the events which took place last night were illegal and in breach of the Covid regulations. We had officers out across the capital working hard to disperse them.
“The vast majority of people who attended engaged with officers and moved away from the locations without issue. However, again, a number refused to leave and became violent. We have made it very clear this type of behaviour will not be tolerated and there are a number of post-event investigations now under way.”
He added: “Our officers have done a very good job in some very difficult circumstances. I applaud the way they have been able to tackle some difficult situations. The seizure of two lethal weapons overnight further emphasises why the dispersal of these events is crucial to protecting our communities.”
Dame Cressida said it had been a “very difficult few weeks” of lockdown easing in the city, with officers coming under attack as they tried to break up crowds.
Writing in The Sun newspaper, she said the force had a “duty” to stop unlawful music events during the Covid-19 pandemic and would be “on the lookout”.
“Big street parties are illegal and reckless. These events should not be happening,” she said.
Officers were also called to an unlicensed music event on Harrow Road, in west London, at about 3pm on Friday.
People there refused to leave when asked, though a Met spokesman said in an update given at about 6.30am on Saturday that there were no known arrests.
Dame Cressida has also warned that “consequences will follow” for those who attack officers and damage property.
In her Sun article, she said: “The officers I met this week were poised to deal with whatever they faced. Hundreds ready in full kit, should there be a violent or aggressive crowd to deal with.
“My message to those involved in thuggery and criminal damage is: consequences will follow.”
Her warning comes after officers sent to break up a street party in Notting Hill, west London, were pelted with objects on Thursday night.
Dozens of officers were also injured in violent scenes in Brixton, south London, on Wednesday evening.
Former Met Police commissioner Lord Blair said there needed to be a “public conversation” about the amount of violence being directed towards police in recent weeks, including at Black Lives Matter protests.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It cannot be right that this level of injury to officers is seen as acceptable.”
Meanwhile in Liverpool, police have been granted more power to disperse crowds after part of the Liver Building caught fire amid celebrations over Liverpool FC’s Premier League triumph.
Merseyside Police issued a section 34 dispersal order for the city centre, allowing officers to break up groups of more than two people, until Sunday.
The force has urged fans to put “safety first” and save their celebrations for when they may be permitted in the future.