Dispersal powers used following reports of Covid breach in Portsmouth
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Officers used dispersal powers following multiple reports of a large party at a halls of residence in Portsmouth.
Police were initially called at 12.46am on Friday 23 October following a report that a large group of people were attending a party at Margaret Rule Halls, in Isambard Brunel Road.
Officers attended and saw a group of around 50 people in the street, who then dispersed.
Officers were called back to the same area at around 2.47am, following reports that around 40 people having a party in the street and not observing social distancing.
A Section 34 dispersal order was imposed and as officers arrived, the majority of those attending ran from the scene.
A man who initially refused to leave the area was asked to leave by officers.
Officers are now reviewing the evidence, including Body Worn Video footage, and are working with the University of Portsmouth to identify those who attended.
The organiser of the party has been identified and officers and the university are considering what formal action will be taken.
Inspector Marcus Kennedy said: “The vast majority of people in Portsmouth have complied with regulations in order to limit the spread of infection, and we do not underestimate how difficult that has been for everyone.
“It is frustrating then that we have had to deal with such a clear breach of the current restrictions. Restrictions on large gatherings have been in place for some time, so there is no excuse for this type of behaviour.
“I would like to remind people that officers have the power to issue £10,000 fines to the organisers of large gatherings, and people attending can be fined £200 for a first offence.
“Everyone has to do their bit to limit the spread of the virus. Our approach has always been to engage, explain and encourage people to act responsibly, but we won’t hesitate to use enforcement action where necessary.”
Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth, said: “I am angry and disappointed that this has happened. I know that the vast majority of students are compiling with Covid laws, acting responsibly and doing their bit to keep themselves, each other and the community safe.
“Such behaviour is unacceptable and I want to be clear that any student found to have broken the laws in place will face swift disciplinary action by the university as well as any fines that may be issued by the police.”