THOUSANDS of Essex residents were slapped with fines for breaching coronavirus laws while Downing Street workers held their own rule-breaking parties.

Essex Police handed out 1,504 fixed penalty notices between March 2020 and December last year, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs' Council.

The statistics show 42 of these fines were recorded from May 17 2021, when different households were allowed to mix indoors for the first time after months of lockdown.

In total, seven large gatherings were also held in the county at a time when large groups were prohibited from meeting under the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

Brentwood Live:

The publication of the data comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” garden party at No.10 during the first lockdown.

The bash is one of seven parties alleged to have taken place between May 15 2020 and December 18 2020.

Jun Pang, policy and campaigns officer for human rights organisation Liberty, has now called out the Government for its handling of rule-breaking.

She said: "Throughout the pandemic we have seen over-zealous policing and chaotic communications, leaving people confused and fearful of prosecution.

"Now we know while communities were being subjected to disproportionate and harmful policing those in power were attending drinks parties at Number 10.

"This is typical of a Government that sees itself as above the law – and that is currently pushing through various pieces of legislation to make itself untouchable.”

Since the release of the figures, a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council has stressed all forces have only enforced coronavirus punishments when necessary.

Nonetheless, Gazette readers have been left fuming by revelations secret Downing Street gatherings were held while they followed rules and faced fines if they didn’t.

Brentwood Live:

According to the result of a recent poll of just over 2,000 north Essex residents, for example, roughly 1,500 people, so 76 per cent, believe Boris Johnson should resign.

Fox Vicsson, Gazette reader and former Conservative Party member, said: “It saddens me to see those at the centre of Government stick their fingers up to the country.

“They are completely incompetent. Once, there were minimum standards politicians were expected to keep to, or resign when they didn't.”