THE chair of the National Police Chief’s Council said “every personal decision is critical”, as he highlighted the risk of illegal gatherings.

It was announced at Downing Street’s latest briefing that an £800 fine will be introduced for those attending house parties, doubling for each offence, to a maximum level of £6,400.

And speaking at Downing Street’s conference, Martin Hewitt, said: “We must deal with the persistent minority.

“Forces are telling us there has been a significant increase, and that’s reflecting the fact we’ve had more officers out on dedicated patrols, taking targeted action, against those small few who are letting everybody down.

“Since regulations were introduced in late August and up to January 17, 250 fixed penalty notices have been issued to people who have organised a large gathering, and those fines carry a £10,000 penalty.

“I make no apology for those fines, which are being given in the most serious cases, where those organising those gatherings, are selfishly putting lives at risk.

“And now anyone who attends those parties can expect to receive an £800 fine.”

Giving examples of police officers dealing with these situations, Mr Hewitt said officers attended a house party in London of more than 40 people, he said the occupants were hostile and one officer was injured.

He also highlighted a house party in Hertfordshire of more than 150 people was stopped and an officer was injured again.

He added: “In a slightly different sense, an officer who took part in an operation in Bournemouth, policing an anti-lockdown protest has since contracted the disease and has been admitted to hospital.

“While that infection can't be directly linked to that event, it puts into perspective the dangerous nature of policing, even with the adequate PPE we provide to staff, this is risky.”