Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “I am happy to report that the vast majority of people across Northern Ireland heeded the messaging from ourselves, political representatives and partner agencies, and celebrated St Patrick’s Day while adhering to the health regulations.

“We had a comprehensive policing operation in place yesterday to help ensure that this St Patrick’s Day was peaceful and safe.

“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 .

“In the Holyland area of South Belfast, up to just after 2am this morning, officers attended nine residential properties, issuing 47 Covid 4 notices (£200 fines) and eight Covid 2 notices. Two other people will be reported to the public prosecution service.

“Also in south Belfast, just after 2.30am this morning, a vehicle which was being driven erratically, failed to stop for police. The vehicle was pursued by specialist officers to the M1 Motorway, where they called off the pursuit and liaised with officers in Lisburn and Castlereagh.

“Officers deployed a stinger device at Sprucefield, which helped to bring the car to a controlled stop. While the four occupant made off from the vehicle, they were located a short distance away and were arrested on suspicion of a number of offences. They remain in custody and our enquiries are ongoing.

“At various locations across Northern Ireland, police and partner agencies attended reports of groups of people gathering up, incidents anti-social behaviour and have seized multiple items of alcohol from young people and people drinking in public spaces.

“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.”

ACC Todd continued: “By working with our partner agencies, and in liaison with local communities, we were able to mark and celebrate the cultural significance of St Patrick’s Day in a way that helps keep communities safe and supports efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

“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.

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