Police were made aware of a gathering of around 150 people in Valley Gardens, Brighton, shortly after 6pm on Saturday (March 13).
Officers attended and engaged with those present, explaining the government’s coronavirus regulations and encouraging them to move on from the area. Where this wasn’t successful, officers moved to necessary and proportionate enforcement action. This is consistent with our policing approach throughout the pandemic.
A 20-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of failing to comply with a direction in order to control coronavirus. He has been taken into custody.
Eight Fixed Penalty Notices were issued to people for breaches of the government’s coronavirus regulations.
We recognise the desire to come together at this time, to mourn the death of Sarah Everard in London and to make a statement on the issue of women’s safety, and we absolutely understand the importance of this message. Everyone should feel safe to walk our streets and we hear that many of you do not.
We acknowledge many women have experienced violence, abuse or harassment and this is not acceptable. Protecting our communities is a top priority for Sussex Police, and we will do what it takes to ensure you feel safe in the county where you live.
However, we remain firmly in a public health emergency and the Covid-19 regulations continue to disallow large gatherings because of the continued, and very real, risks of the virus. A High Court judgement on Friday (March 12) ruled planned vigils would not be an exception to the government’s legislation around gatherings during the national lockdown.
We are grateful to everyone who has found a safe and alternative way to express their feelings at this difficult and emotional time.