THE chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation appeared live on national news today, amid fears that this weekend could see large gatherings ahead of the new six-person rule being enforced from Monday.

Brian Booth spoke on Sky News, where he warned people who may be looking for one last party before the rule comes into place that their actions "could have a massive affect on this COVID spike."

He added that mass gatherings could potentially lead to a "second lockdown", which in turn could create more "social deprivation" and have a "massive impact on crime."

Prime minister Boris Johnson set out the new 'rule of six', which will come into effect on Monday, meaning that meetings of groups of more than six people in England will no longer be allowed.

Mr Booth said West Yorkshire Police is "absolutely" prepared if people are to head out in large numbers tonight and tomorrow, but added that a lack of resources may make things difficult.

"We're really busy, certainly in West Yorkshire - we're back to pre-COVID crime levels and the amount of deployments we're getting every day is just outstripping our resources", he said.

"Assaults and sexual offences mean that police are very busy. We don’t have enough resources to manage every group of people who decide to break the rules, and that needs to be made crystal clear.

"Yes, if we have a free officer available we will try and disperse large groups, but realistically, we are so busy with other elements of policing and it won't feature as a higher priority.

"I would just appeal to the public to abide by the rules and abide by the regulations, and we'll get through this eventually."

When asked how police will deal with those they do find flouting the rules, Mr Booth added that the 'four Es' will be applied.

"At this moment in time, we're still waiting for the fine guidelines to be sent through and we're still waiting for what the full list of exemptions are. 

"We will go back to the 'four Es' - so we'll be engaging, explaining and encouraging the public to abide by the rules, before we go down any enforcement [the fourth 'E'] lines."

When asked how many fines West Yorkshire Police has issued to rule-breakers since the onset of lockdown, Mr Booth said he did not have the figure to hand, before estimating that he doesn't think it "would be many at all." 

"All of my colleagues have had great success in using the three Es, before even getting down to the enforcement."

Mr Booth finished the interview by advising those who may head out in large groups that "your actions this weekend could have a massive affect on this COVID spike", adding that a "second lockdown" could cause "social deprivation for many years to come, and this will have a massive impact on crime."