Police stop church hall rave and dish out £18k in NYE party fines

Thorndon Park church hall illegal party

The aftermath of an unlicensed New Year's Eve event at Thorndon Park conserved church - Credit: Essex Police

Police said officers were pelted with objects and threatened while trying to break up an unlicensed New Year’s Eve event in an Essex church hall.

Officers eventually seized equipment, dispersed the crowd of hundreds and made three arrests before midnight.

The event was staged at a conservation-run church and was among three major locations attended by operational support group officers from Essex Police overnight.

The force said it had slapped 'reckless' individuals with more than £18,000 in organiser fines and fixed penalty notices overnight.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “I’d like to firstly thank everyone across Essex who stayed at home and did the right thing last night.

“Unfortunately, there were others who decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people.

“We’ve seized their equipment, arrested five people, and issued a large number of fines to those who think this behaviour is acceptable."

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The first major location attended was a conservation-run church in Thorndon Park, where hundreds of people had gained entry and, in attempting to engage with party-goers, officers had objects thrown at them and were threatened.

A 27-year-old man from Harlow was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, a public order offence, and offences under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.

A 22-year old man from Harlow was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence, possession of cannabis, and of offences under Coronavirus Regulations.

A 35-year-old man from Southwark was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A and possession of Class B drugs.

Officers later seized a generator at an unlicensed event at an abandoned warehouse in nearby Brentwood and dispersed about 100 people.

Two people were arrested - one for failing to provide details, and the other on suspicion of drink-driving.

Finally, a woman was issued a £10,000 fine for organising a house party with about 100 people in attendance in Bury Road, Sewardstonebury.

Police seized  equipment inside and dispersed the crowd, issuing more than 25 fixed penalty notices in the process.

A dispersal order was put in place until midday on Friday, January 1.

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