After Manchester police received criticism for breaking up a child’s birthday party, a senior police officer said the police “can’t win” in dealing with violations of the CCP virus restrictions.
Criticisms quickly followed after Greater Manchester Police posted an update on social media on Friday reporting that they had disrupted a child’s birthday party and issued a fine to the homeowner.
#UPDATE | Officers attended a property in #Swinton where 3 families were celebrating a child’s birthday in a private garden. The homeowner has been issued with a fixed penalty notice. pic.twitter.com/0TybL2VQGi
— Greater Manchester Police (@gmpolice) August 21, 2020
A Twitter user appearing to be a family friend said that it was a girl’s 10th birthday and the kids were about to bring out the cake when the police interrupted.
Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins told BBC Radio 5 on Monday morning that when the officers arrived, it was not a “jelly and ice cream” party with “a bunch of 3 or 4 years old,” but mostly adults enjoying the party after 8 p.m.
Hopkins said the police were trying to take a “balanced and proportionate view,” and have only issued very few fines. He gave another example where the police left a child’s party quietly upon realizing the child was terminally ill.
Hopkins said the police were in a “difficult position,” because if they didn’t enforce the restrictions, people who abide by the rules are “saying it’s not fair,” and if they did, people are saying it’s “heavy handed” and like a “police state.”
As a result, it’s one of areas under tighter restrictions. Locals are not allowed to meet people from a different household, with some limited exemptions. Rule breakers can be subjected to a fine ranging from 50 pounds ($65.77) to 3,200 pounds ($4209.49).
Hopkins said they were called to 126 house parties or gatherings this weekend. Many of the gatherings are reported to the police by neighbors.
From Aug. 28, those who organize or facilitate illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or other unlawful gatherings of over 30 people in England can face a fine of up to 10,000 pounds ($13,000).