Heat-seeking camera reveals size of illegal party after police pelted with missiles

A police helicopter’s thermal imaging camera has revealed the size of an illegal house party that saw officers pelted with missiles as they tried to break up the event.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said about 200 people attended the lockdown party on Saturday night as the force released footage showing some climbing over fences to get in.

Objects were thrown at officers as they attempted to intervene to stop the event in Harlow Drive, Gorton, shortly after 10pm.

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Police called the event in Gorton ‘completely unacceptable’. Pic: GMP

Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council obtain three month closure order following large gathering in Manchester. At around 10.10pm on Saturday 15 August 2020, police were called to a residential property on Harlow Drive, Gorton…t.co/cWGIPIAdxJ pic.twitter.com/Oyl3bnaLVE

— Greater Manchester Police (@gmpolice) August 18, 2020

GMP said an order was issued at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday which now bans anyone from accessing the house, except the property owner and the tenant, for three months.

A 27-year-old woman, said to be the party’s organiser, was previously fined £100.

Greater Manchester is still subject to lockdown restrictions on social gatherings due to a local spike in coronavirus cases.

GMP warned it faced “unprecedented demand” over the weekend due to large gatherings of people, with Inspector Jim Adams calling the incident in Gorton “completely unacceptable and incomprehensible”.

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Greater Manchester is still subject to lockdown restrictions. Pic: GMP

“I understand that this is a frustrating time – many of us want to see our loved ones but we need to continue complying,” he added.

“Enforcement is a last resort for GMP but today’s closure order is a warning that officers will take action if or when necessary.”

Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said the Gorton party was a “particularly flagrant breach of COVID-19 restrictions, which are in place to protect everyone in our communities and must be respected”.

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The incident was one of several large gatherings in Greater Manchester over the weekend. Pic: GMP

He added: “It is only if we all play our part by acting responsibly and doing our bit that we will start to see cases coming down, thus avoiding the risk of further restrictions being brought into force.

“We welcome this tough action, which serves as a reminder that public health must be our first priority and that selfish breaches of the rules will not be tolerated.”

GMP said officers were forced to call for significant back-up over the weekend as they dealt with large gatherings.

The disorder on Saturday night in Gorton followed large gatherings in the Wilmslow Road area of Manchester on Friday.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling said GMP was “extremely stretched” with “unprecedented demand” despite having support from officers from North Wales and Cheshire.

“The last thing we need is large gatherings such as this, as well as unacceptable attacks on officers attending the scene,” he said.

“Quite frankly, it is beyond comprehension and I am incredibly disappointed that people feel they can gather in this way – blatantly flouting the rules.”

Mr Pilling said in his 30-year police career he had “never seen anything quite as outrageous as this behaviour”.

“It is appalling,” he added.

“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and over 40,000 people have lost their lives.

“Greater Manchester is specifically affected to the extent we have a local lockdown and many places still have a rising infection rate.

“People behaving in this way are contributing to an already difficult situation.”

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Friday’s street gatherings on Pakistan Independence Day were condemned by Manchester Gorton MP Afzal Khan, who said he was disappointed, frustrated and angry at the “appalling” behaviour of those present.

The MP tweeted: “Not only is antisocial behaviour of this kind deeply disrespectful to Rusholme residents, ignoring the COVID-19 regulations puts us all at risk.”