More police officers to patrol streets on last night of freedom before lockdown

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Police officers on patrol in Soho, central London, after a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases came into place in England. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police officers on patrol in Soho, central London (Picture: Getty)

More police officers will patrol the streets on the last night before the second lockdown amid concerns people could gather in large groups and attend illegal parties.

England will enter new restrictions on Thursday, which will close restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops until at least 2 December, although unlike the first lockdown in late March and April, schools will stay open for all pupils.

The Met Police has confirmed it will have more officers on the ground in London on Wednesday to deal with any potential problems on the eve of the new lockdown.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, the Met’s lead for Coronavirus, said: “For the rest of today, we remain in the “High Alert” level restrictions, and I know there will be many people thinking about whether they should head out tonight to support the hospitality sector before it closes.

“It is hugely important that people who are going out, stick to the current regulations and do not see tonight as an excuse for other gatherings or parties that are illegal, and could ultimately put other people’s lives at risk.”

Watch: Police may be 'overwhelmed' in efforts to patrol lockdown

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Twist added: “Tonight, we will have more officers on duty to engage with the public and ensure that we all continue to keep each other safe.

“We are ready and prepared to take enforcement action against those who are deliberately breaching rules and putting people at risk.”

Police chiefs from Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside have warned people who ignore coronavirus restrictions to be prepared to “face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement”.

In an open letter released on Tuesday, the chief constables of five forces in the north-west of the country said they would “collectively target” the minority of the public who flout the rules by holding large gatherings, music events and parties.

The senior officers also said they were seeking support from the government and judiciary to consider how they can rapidly bring to justice those who choose to ignore coronavirus-related fines.

Police patrol in Soho, in central London on September 24, 2020, on the first day of the new earlier closing times for pubs and bars in England and Wales, introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. - Britain has tightened restrictions to stem a surge of coronavirus cases, ordering pubs to close early and advising people to go back to working from home to prevent a second national lockdown. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
More police officers will be on the streets of London (Picture: Getty Images)

The message from the forces comes after a period of tightened restrictions for much of the North West due to the high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Addressing potential rule-breakers, the chief constables added: “We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions such as self-isolating where necessary.

“Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them.”

Watch: What are the fines for breaching self-isolation?

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