The Met Police has suggested it will not investigate alleged lockdown parties at No 10 while an internal inquiry is being conducted.
The force said Thursday evening that it was its policy to not “normally investigate” breaches of the lockdown rules “long” after they had happened.
It said it was in regular contact with the Cabinet Office over an inquiry into alleged lockdown parties at Downing Street and that it would consider any evidence of potentially criminal behaviour the inquiry finds.
A Met spokesperson said: “In line with the Met’s policy, officers do not normally investigate breaches of Coronavirus Regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place.
“However, if significant evidence suggesting a breach of the regulations becomes available, officers may review and consider it.
“The Cabinet Office is conducting an inquiry into gatherings at Number 10 Downing Street and the Department for Education.
“The Met has ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office in relation to this inquiry. If the inquiry identifies evidence of behaviour that is potentially a criminal offence it will be passed to the Met for further consideration.”
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into a series of alleged lockdown breaching events, which is not expected to report until at least next week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised on Wednesday for attending a party in May 2020 in the Downing Street garden.
The UK was in a strict lockdown at the time which banned most gatherings.
The revelation left the Prime Minister facing the worst political crisis of his premiership, with several Tories, including the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, calling for him to resign.
Meanwhile, Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, wrote to Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick urging a criminal inquiry be launched into allegations of lockdown breaking.
In its latest statement, the force said it was “aware of widespread reports” of alleged lockdown breaches at the heart of government and that it had received correspondence in relation to it.
A spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic the Met has followed the national 4 Es approach of enforcing the Coronavirus Regulations. Where live ongoing breaches of the restrictions were identified, officers engaged with those present, explained the current restrictions, encouraged people to adhere to them, and only as a last resort moved to enforcement.”
The force is facing pressure to investigate, with one of Dame Cressida’s predecessors, Sir Paul Stephenson, saying on Wednesday that the Met would eventually have “little choice” but to investigate.