Coronavirus: Police who broke up child’s birthday party backed by chief constable

Police who broke up a children’s birthday party that contravened coronavirus restrictions have been backed by their chief constable.

Ian Hopkins, the most senior officer in Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said: “It feels a bit at the moment like we can’t win.”

He said the force was spending an extra £100,000 a week policing the COVID-19 restrictions.

GMP were accused of being heavy-handed after issuing a fixed penalty notice when officers attended a home in the town of Swinton, where three families were celebrating a child’s birthday in a private garden.

The area is one of the places in the north of England where extra restrictions are in place to prevent socialising between households.

The party, Mr Hopkins said, was going on past 8pm and it was mainly adults who were there.

“It wasn’t sort of jelly and ice cream with a bunch of three and four-year-olds sat around in the middle of the afternoon,” he said.

“Officers decided, based on what they had seen, to issue a fixed penalty notice.”

Police chose not to issue a fine after attending a separate party being held for a terminally-ill child, he added.

The force issued 19 fixed penalty notices at the weekend after attending 126 incidents.

Mr Hopkins told Radio 5 Live: “We are trying to absolutely balance what we’re doing, but it’s a really difficult position for us at the moment.”

Earlier this month, officers in Manchester were subjected to “unacceptable” attacks at an illegal street party in Gorton.

Oldham has been under a strict new lockdown since midnight on Friday, including tough new social distancing measures, following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Different households are no longer be able to meet with each other in any setting, including in parks and beer gardens.

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