Four police officers injured breaking up fight near Caribbean cookout on Kent beach

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Four officers have been injured while trying to break up a fight which broke out after hundreds people gathered at an event on a beach in Kent

Images on social media show a mass of people gathered for a beach cookout on Romney Marsh on Sunday hosted by Flavour Boss, a Caribbean takeaway and delivery based in Croydon, south London.

Police attended the scene and explained the government's current Covid-19 guidelines, which state that it is against the law to hold a gathering of more than 30 people without permission from the local authority and police.

Around 9pm, they broke up a fight in a nearby car park during which four officers were injured.

The organisers of the party admitted the event "got out of hand".

Flavour Boss director Orette Williams said tickets were sold for £27.54, but the money was used to cover the three coach-loads of people who attended the event and the company gave out food free of charge.

Mr Williams told the PA news agency he was given permission for the event, but it was withdrawn 48 hours beforehand after police found out that coach-loads of people would be attending.

"It did get a bit out of hand, with regards to the social distancing," he said.

Mr Williams said he had been given "mixed signals" by Folkstone and Hythe District Council, which he said gave permission for a gathering that followed social distancing rules.

"We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. What was I going to do? I was going to lose £2,000 on the coaches," he said.

"We don't host illegal gatherings, we did not break the law - the police knew this event was taking place. They were there from the start."

In a post on Facebook, the council wrote: "We are aware of the large unauthorised gathering taking place at Greatstone Beach. It is causing delays in the area so please bear this in mind if you have travel plans.

"Kent Police is reminding those attending of the latest government advice around social distancing and encouraging them to adhere to it.

"Officers will remain in the area as part of their patrols."

The event was originally planned to be held at nearby Camber in East Sussex, but the plan was blocked by police.

Sussex Police said the event had not been granted the relevant permissions and would not be supported.

The force's Rother branch tweeted: "Any event of more than 30 people, without agreement from the police and local authority, will not be allowed to go ahead.

"Rother District Council and Sussex Police will be monitoring arrivals at the beach and will disperse or turn away any large groups or gatherings.

"Anyone who bought a ticket for the event at Camber should contact the event organiser and ask for a refund."

Kent Police’s deputy area commander for East Kent, Superintendent Simon Thompson, said: "Our officers responded to calls regarding a large group of people on Greatstone beach and remained in the area throughout the day to ensure those gathering were following guidelines.

"Our beaches, parks and town centres have been busier since the easing of lockdown restrictions and whilst the majority of visitors are following guidance to help control the spread of the virus we will continue to attend incidents where members of the public are not adhering to those safety measures.

"We work with the local authority, who has responsibility for the management of beaches, to ensure that coastal areas remain safe and pleasant places for both residents and visitors. We will not tolerate reports of anti-social behaviour."

He added: "Kent Police continues to investigate the circumstances of this altercation in order to establish whether any further offences have been committed. Anyone who witnessed anything or has information and has not yet been in touch should call us with information."

Additional reporting by PA
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