New house party fines are being introduced in in England from next week, the Home Secretary has confirmed.

Priti Patel announced that individuals attending house parties will be fined a minimum of £800.

She told the Downing Street press conference: “Next week we will be introducing a new £800 fine for those attending house parties, which will double for each repeat offence to a maximum level of £6,400.

“These fines will apply to those who attend illegal gatherings of more than 15 people in homes.

“The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health. Not only to those in attendance but to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.”

Ms Patel was joined by the chair of the National Police Chief’s Council, Martin Hewitt who welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement on fines saying large gatherings such as house parties are “dangerous, irresponsible, and totally unacceptable”.

He told the Downing Street briefing: “I hope that the likelihood of an increased fine acts as a disincentive for those people who are thinking of attending or organising such events.”

He said officers will not “waste time” trying to reason with people breaking the rules in such a way.

He added: “When we see people that are putting themselves and others in danger, we will not waste time trying to reason with them.

“They are demonstrating no regard for the safety of others, or even for themselves.”

Mr Hewitt said official figures will be released next week showing how many fines have been given out since the start of this latest national lockdown.

He said: “Forces are telling us there has been a significant increase, and that’s reflecting the fact that we’ve had more officers out on dedicated patrols taking targeted action against those small few who are letting everybody down.”

He said since regulations were introduced in late August, and up to January 17, there have been 250 fixed penalty notices issued by forces in England to people who have organised a large gathering.

The new house party fine comes as the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England stood at 33,235 as of 8am on Thursday January 21, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

This is slightly below the record 34,336 patients on January 18, but up 1% on a week ago and up 88% since Christmas Day.

Four regions have seen a week-on-week rise in the number of Covid-19 patients: the Midlands, which has 6,380 patients, up 10%; north-west England, which has 4,287, also up 10%; north-east England/Yorkshire, which has 3,814, again up 10%; and south-west England, which has 2,311, up 9%.

The figures for the other regions are: London 7,332 patients, down 6%; south-east England 5,033, down 8%; and eastern England 4,078, down 5%.