Police handed out hundreds of fines across England as revellers ignored warnings to ring in the new year with their own household only.
New restrictions, which came into effect at midnight on 31 December, meant a total of 44 million people – 78 per cent of England’s population – saw in 2021 under the toughest tier 4 measures.
The Metropolitan Police said it attended calls to 58 unlicensed music events and parties in breach of tier 4 rules across London overnight.
Some 217 people were handed fixed penalty fines in London while five people were reported for a possible £10,000 fine for organising large gatherings of people.
Four people were arrested for breaching Covid regulations after gathering in central London.
The force also said two men, aged 18 and 19, were stabbed and a 17-year-old girl was hit on the head with a bottle following one New Year’s Eve party on Edgware Road.
Police in Essex said three people were arrested after hundreds of revellers trashed a 500-year-old church during an unlicensed music event in the village of East Horndon.
Organisers of the event inside All Saints Church – a Grade II* listed building – set up a bar and DJ decks and hired portable toilets for partygoers, causing more than £1,000 in damage.
Essex Police said officers were threatened and had objects thrown at them while trying to engage with those present.
The force dished out more than £18,000 in fines to organisers of unlicensed music events over the course of the new year period.
Detective Chief Constable Terry Woods, of Lancashire Constabulary, tweeted at 2.30am: “Demand now increasing – themes assaults, house party fights, sadly domestic abuse & people reaching crisis.
“I spent strike of midnight on foot with cops searching for a high risk missing person. Just resuming from assisting with the arrest of a violent drink driver – welcome to 2021!!”
West Midlands Police were also battling lockdown fatigue as 2020 drew to a close.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson tweeted: “I am afraid some shocking Covid breaches with very large house parties. Well dealt with by the team. Always a pleasure to spend time with such professional officers.”
Merseyside Police got ahead of the game by putting a dispersal zone on the Pier Head and other parts of Liverpool city centre between 7.30pm on New Year’s Eve and midday on 1 January.
The order came just hours after a post was circulated on social media encouraging people to meet near the Liver Building for a party with the words “F*** tier 3”, the Liverpool Echo reported.
Other forces got off more lightly, with Wiltshire Police reporting “a quiet and peaceful new year” – issuing around 20 formal warnings for house parties to disperse.
Greater Manchester Police, by contrast, issued 105 fixed penalty notices for Covid regulation breaches between 5pm on New Year’s Eve and 7am on 1 January.
The majority of fines were issued at house parties but there were several larger incidents including a rave on an industrial estate in Wigan and a large fight at a party of around 30 people in Manchester city centre.
Leicestershire Police said it handed out 75 fixed penalty notices over the new year period, totalling almost £74,000.
Between 7am on New Year’s Eve and 7am on New Year’s Day, the force received 191 reports of Covid breaches by the public.
Six people were issued with £10,000 fines for holding a gathering of more than 30 people while 57 fines were issued under tier 4 for participating in a gathering of two or more people in a private dwelling or indoors.
Police in Brighton and Hove issued 66 fines overnight on New Year’s Eve but thanked the “vast majority” of people for staying at home.
These were among 81 fixed penalty notices issued by Sussex Police between 6pm on Thursday and 3am on Friday.
The fines ranged from outdoor gatherings of groups in public spaces, to private parties and people travelling from outside the area into the county.
Police in Scotland said revellers gathered at Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill but “dispersed without incident” once asked to by officers.
Additional reporting by PA