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Lockdown police split up group as 200 join music party in Leather Lane

Covid commander Neil Holyoak defended the force's handling of the incident

11 June, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Young people gathered on leather Lane around 12am

POLICE have admitted they could have acted quicker to shut down a street party in Holborn during which hundreds of young people were breaking physical distancing rules.

More than 200 young people turned up to a music event held in Leather Lane on Friday evening.

The Met received around 50 calls from outraged residents complaining of noise pollution and anti-social behaviour, with dozens more calls made to the council.

The event was said to be an album launch and video shoot for popular rapper Ambush.

It took several hours for officers to break up the event, at one point using shields, although Superintendent Neil Holyoak, the Covid-19 commander for Camden and Islington, defended the response of officers.

“I think it’s fair to say it could’ve been broken up sooner, that’s a fair challenge,” he said.

“But, our officers and those from the council attended and assessed the situation and found there was no immediate threat to life,” said Supt Holyoak.

“The vast majority of people in attendance were absolutely out for a good time and weren’t causing any trouble, therefore we tried to build a rapport with organisers and do what we’ve been doing throughout the pandemic which is explain and encourage people to go home.

“A very small number refused to leave and some missiles were thrown at officers which is totally unacceptable.

“We did have to withdraw for a while and public order officers came back with protective equipment on, but the event had concluded at around 12.30am.

“Unlicensed music events do present a significant threat to the people who attend them, especially during a pandemic. But we have much less of these kinds of events than other neighbouring boroughs and we’re never going to just get the shields out and go in with force,” he added.

“We have to consider the crowd dynamic and avoid creating disorder by going in heavy-handed, and of course the unrest in London at the moment has to be taken into consideration.”

There was a similar impromptu event on the road two years ago after which police and the council faced criticism for their response.

Camden Council confirmed no permit was granted for this year’s event.

A rumour that the event was held on behalf of Queen’s Crescent Community Association was denied by chief executive Foyezur Miah, who said: “It is very upsetting that some would tarnish us by using our name to justify a party that could put so many at risk.”

Supt Holyoak said: “If you see a large party going on which includes illegal parking, anti-social behaviour, excessive drinking and drugs then absolutely call us and we will police it appropriately.”

The police confirmed there had been one arrest – a 21-year-old woman – on Friday.

Ward councillor Awale Olad said: “Young people want to enjoy themselves, and I appreciate that. I hope we can work with the organisers going forward and find a suitable location for their block parties.”

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