10-man fight breaks out diverting emergency crews from coronavirus front line

Emergency services were diverted from the front line of the battle against coronavirus to deal with a huge fight in Lancashire.

Police said much-needed emergency resources were used to deal with the brawl, which happened yesterday.

Officers were called when a group of 10 men were spotted fighting in Brierfield at about 12.10am.

Two men received head and leg injuries and were taken to Burnley General Hospital for treatment.

Another two men, aged 22 and 23, were arrested and later released on bail pending further inquiries.

Police are appealing for information and dashcam footage of the incident, which occurred near the Powerhouse Gym and Dixy Fried Chicken takeaway in Burnley Road.

Detective Inspector Paul Langley said: ‘As a consequence of this disorder, emergency resources had to be diverted away from where they are required at this time, in particular NHS staff, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘We know that a number of motorists passed the fight and I would appeal for them to come forward and to ask that if they have any dashcam footage of the incident to please send it to us.

‘To provide reassurance to the local community we have increased police patrols in the Brierfield area.

‘We would however continue to advise people to adhere to the government guidelines to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.’

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting crime reference 0036 of April 1, or email [email protected]

Alternatively information can be provided anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The news comes as self-isolation rates heavily impact police force numbers across the country.

West Midlands Police has more than 1,000 officers and staff absent from work or unable to carry out normal duties because of sickness or self-isolation, a senior national policing source has said.

There are about 6,500 officers and 3,000 staff on the force, which is the largest outside the Metropolitan Police Service which serves London.

Lincolnshire Police’s chief constable Bill Skelly has said that roughly double the number of officers he would expect to be absent were off work due to coronavirus-related issues.

Dorset Police’s chief constable, James Vaughan has revealed the proportion of his workforce off is in the ‘high teens’, with about 300 people out of a workforce of 2,500 self-isolating.

Last week, Merseyside Police said 12% of the workforce were off sick with around 5% self-isolating for Covid-19 symptoms, while Cumbria and Greater Manchester forces both said 10% of their workforces were absent and the rate was 12% in Devon and Cornwall and 6% in Durham.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has refused to say how many police officers overall have been self-isolating and off work across the UK.

Not all absences will be a result of the pandemic, with the Met Police reportedly already having an absence rate of 20%.