Police raided the address on Wigan Road at around 2.45am on Sunday and found around 30 people inside, believed to be students from Edge Hill University celebrating a birthday party.
Several people fled the property on police arrival – including some out of a window – but the organiser of the party, a woman aged in her 20s, was located and will be issued with a £10,000 fixed penalty notice in due course.
Officers also located nine of the people who had been in attendance and they were all given an £800 fixed penalty notice. This was a result of the new law which came into force at the weekend – part of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations – which now allows officers to issue the increased fine to anybody attending a house party of 15 people or more.
Officers also arrested a man after an officer was pushed while speaking to party-goers. Sam Taiwo, 23, of Bellhouse Road, Sheffield, has since been charged with assaulting a police officer and is due at Preston Magistrates’ Court on April 1st.
Supt Karen Edwards, of Lancashire Police, said: “This weekend new Coronavirus regulations were introduced, enabling police to hand out increased fines to those in attendance at larger house parties. Officers who attended the party in Ormskirk used these powers, and as a result several fixed penalty notices were given out.
“This party was a blatant breach of the current restrictions, which are in place to prevent the virus from spreading and to keep everybody safe. It is unbelievably selfish for anyone to believe they are exempt when so many law-abiding citizens have not seen their friends and family properly in almost a year. The people in attendance also gave no thought to the safety of the local community or the officers who had to attend to break up the gathering, not to mention the NHS which is under immense strain. It is also shocking that an officer reported being assaulted while dealing with the aftermath of the event.
“While we are continuing to spend most of our time dealing with crime and keeping people safe, we must stress that incidents like this take us away from that and take up officers’ valuable time. We have always taken a proportionate approach to breaches of the regulations – educating, explaining and engaging first, with enforcement as a last resort – but when people blatantly break the rules, as with this party, we have to take it seriously and take a firmer approach.
“As always, we would like to say a huge thankyou to those who are following the law and are doing their bit to keep everybody safe. We all want lockdown to end, and for normality to resume, and we are grateful to the majority who are working with us to make that happen.”
Over the course of the weekend we received a total of 517 calls about Covid-19 breaches across the county, and 181 tickets were issued. The majority of these incidents were house parties, checks on behalf of the Border Agency (for example, on people who have not self-isolated after arriving in the UK from abroad) and businesses not complying with the regulations.