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Police issue 135 enforcement notices in St Patrick's Day crackdown but top cop 'happy' with public Covid response

The PSNI issued 135 enforcement notices Northern Ireland as part of its St Patrick's Day crackdown, however a senior officer said he was "happy" the vast majority of people adhered to the coronavirus public health messaging.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said a comprehensive policing operation had been in place across Northern Ireland to ensure a peaceful St Patrick's Day.

Hundreds of extra police officers were brought on duty with police promising a "robust" response.

ACC Todd said: “Whilst we did note large numbers in some parks and beauty spots, officers implemented our four Es strategy, Engage, Explain, Encourage, and lastly Enforce, and encouraged people to return home where necessary, including a number of groups in Botanic Gardens in Belfast," he said.

In the Holyland area of South Belfast, up to just after 2am on Thursday, he said officers attended nine residential properties and issued 47 Covid 4 notices (£200 fines) and eight Covid 2 notices.

Two other people will also be reported to the Public Prosecution Service.

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Gathering: Crowds of young people in Botanic Gardens on Wednesday are asked to leave by the PSNI

Gathering: Crowds of young people in Botanic Gardens on Wednesday are asked to leave by the PSNI

Gathering: Crowds of young people in Botanic Gardens on Wednesday are asked to leave by the PSNI

In another incident in south Belfast, just after 2.30am, a vehicle which was driving "erratically" that failed to stop was pursued on to the M1 by specialist police officers.

At this point, they called off the pursuit and liaised with officers in Lisburn and Castlereagh who deployed a stinger device, helping to bring the car to a controlled stop.

While four occupants in the vehicle attempted to escape on foot, they were located a short distance away and arrested on suspicion of a number of key offences.

They currently remain in custody while police enquiries continue.

Police and partner agencies also attended various locations after reports of groups of people gathering with incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Multiple items of alcohol were confiscated from young people and people drinking in public spaces.

ACC Todd added: “Our preliminary figures indicate that a total of 135 enforcement notices were issued across Northern Ireland into the early hours of this morning. However, most people heeded the collective messaging in terms of how they conducted themselves.”

He said the policing operation had allowed the public to mark and celebrate the cultural significance of St Patrick's Day safely.

“As we move forward with some restrictions easing, more young people returning to school and the vaccination programme continuing, we still need everyone to work together and adhere to the Health Regulations so we can continue to keep people safe and protect our communities during these continuingly difficult times."

Belfast Telegraph

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