Police say they are too stretched to break up house party with 200 guests

Martin Evans
·2-min read
Police in Brighton said they were too busy to attend the house party
Police in Brighton said they were too busy to attend the house party

Neighbours who reported a house party where up to 200 people had gathered ahead of the new coronavirus restrictions were told police could not attend because officers were too busy, it has emerged.

Residents in the Round Hill area of Brighton were shocked on Saturday when scores of young people descended on a terraced house for what had been billed as a "last hurrah" party before the new rule of six was introduced.

Locals said the partygoers were flouting social distancing rules and were spilling out of the house into the street and garden.

But when they contacted Sussex Police to alert them to the law breakers, they were told officers could not attend because it was not a priority.

New rules limiting gatherings to six people were brought in on Monday, two days after the party, in a bid to tackle a large increase in coronavirus cases.

People breaching the regulations face fixed penalty notices of £100 while organisers of large scale illegal gatherings can be hit with £10,000 fines.

But police forces have warned they are too stretched dealing with serious crime to effectively enforce the restrictions.

One of the residents who complained about the house party said: “It’s an absolute shambles. If the police aren’t going to respond to flagrant breaches of Covid laws then who will. With the number of Covid cases going up I really fear for the future.”

Another said: “I was really, really shocked. There were youths all over the house, garden and street and none of them were social distancing or wearing masks.

“I mean what clearer example of a breach of the rules do the police want? If they won’t turn out to this they won’t turn out for anything.”

Posting of Facebook, Tim Nicholls, said: “So much for the police enforcing the rules. If they are not going to bother, no-one else will and we will get another lockdown.”

Neighbours estimated there were around 200 people in the house, gardens and street at the peak of the party.

One student, who attended the party but refused to be named, said: “Most of the people were outside so I can’t see what the problem is.”

Sussex Police said they were called to the party at around 11.30pm on Saturday night but were too busy to attend.

A spokeswoman said: “The caller was concerned that it was breaching Covid-19 guidelines around gathering.

“The caller was told that due to high demand and a number of grade one calls we were responding to at this time in the city, we would be unable to attend.

“However the report was sent to local prevention officers for their awareness.”