GMP condemns ‘unacceptable’ injuries to officers during lockdown protest
The organiser of a ‘lockdown protest’ in Manchester city centre over the weekend that saw a number of officers injured has been issued with a £10,000 fixed penalty notice (FPN).
Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain said the gathering, which at its peak saw more than 600 people in attendance at Piccadilly Gardens, was “irresponsible” and condemned the “unacceptable behaviour towards officers”.
Mr Hussain said inquiries had also established that one group of attendees had travelled to Greater Manchester from Cumbria by coach.
“The driver and the company they work for have both been reported to the relevant industry regulator,” he added.
Mr Hussain said the officers were injured while attempting to peacefully disperse the gathering yesterday (November 8).
He publically condemned the gathering, adding: “Both the organisers and attendees were irresponsible – increasing demand on police who are also responding to calls regarding serious incidents and people who are in immediate danger across Greater Manchester.
“Before and during this gathering, officers followed guidance to engage with the organiser and attendees, explain the restrictions and encourage compliance. Unfortunately, the encouragement was ignored which resulted in officers progressing to enforcement.
“Whilst responding to this gathering, a number of officers were injured. This is unacceptable behaviour towards our officers who were simply doing their job and protecting people.”
Mr Hussain, said that ahead of Sunday, officers attempted to engage with the person organising this gathering – a 40-year-old man from Trafford – warning him of the likely consequences and “advising, for his and everyone else’s sake, to abandon his plans”.
“However, he decided to ignore this advice and pressed ahead with a reckless and completely irresponsible course of action,” added Mr Hussain. “He has been left with a significant financial penalty as a result.
“Work is ongoing to identify others who were in attendance at the gathering and blatantly breaching government restrictions.”
So far, 25 £200 FPNs have been issued to people who attended the gathering, including:
- Two men, aged 30 and 32, who were arrested for beach of the peace;
- A man, aged 40, was who arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act; and
- A 23-year-old woman who was arrested under Section 4 of the Public Order Act. She has been released under investigation.
“Gatherings such as this increase demand on our officers, who are already working tirelessly in difficult circumstances to help protect our communities,” said Mr Mr Hussain.
“Government restrictions on social distancing are in place to control the spread of Covid-19.
“We recognise that these are difficult times, but I would implore everyone to think of their loved ones and do your bit to fight the virus, as well as protecting our NHS, by complying with current restrictions during lockdown.”