How police in Nottinghamshire will enforce new rules on social gatherings

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Police will not be afraid to hand out fines to people who are in groups larger than six to avoid a local lockdown as coronavirus rates rise.

Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said fines are still "a last resort" but officers will not be afraid to issue them if people fail to change their behaviour.

Concerns have been raised there will be a spike in coronavirus cases across Nottinghamshire when hundreds of students return to the city this month.

Already, in places such as Lenton, students have gathered in back gardens or held parties, with large groups present.

At present, the guidance says two households of any size are allowed to meet indoors or outdoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors.

Until now the police have had no powers to stop gatherings unless they exceeded 30, which could result in a £10,000 fine for the person who arranged or facilitated the gathering.

Social gatherings of more than six people will now be illegal in England from Monday - with some exemptions such as in schools, workplaces or weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply, doubling on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

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Mr Tipping told Nottinghamshire Live: "Infection rates are increasing nationally but are relatively low in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

"I think it is wise to take steps. The rules are very clear 'you can't meet with more than six people indoors or outdoors.'

"There will be a reluctance initially to issue fines but the experience from the early days of lockdown is people complied but if they don't they will face a fine.

"Clearly students coming back poses a challenge but we are aware of it. They will be aware of the rules of six people.

Residents are concerned about parties in Lenton during the global pandemic

Residents are concerned about parties in Lenton during the global pandemic (Image: Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

"We knew this (new rules) were coming. The message from the police to the prime minister was the present rules are far too complicated. This is now a simple message.

"The last thing we want is a lockdown in Nottingham and we have avoided that in Newark and worked hard to ensure that.

"People need to know if they do not obey the restrictions they will face a fine.

"Fines have been issued in Nottingham and they will be issued again.

"We don't want to do that but if they are behaving badly or won't change their behaviour they will be fined."

Kate Loewenthal, chair of the Lenton Drives and Neighbours Residents' Association said the area had been blighted with large student gatherings, sometimes up to 40 in a property.

She said the new rules would go some way to solve the problems when more students return to the city.

"It gives us a bit more security and I am really hoping it will be a deterrent.

"I just hope that the police have the resources to make it worthwhile and be able to use it appropriately."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give further details of the changes at a Downing Street news conference at 4pm today.

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