Police were called to multiple parties and gatherings as hundreds of people in Watford ignored pleas to celebrate New Year safely at home.

Despite a soaring number of Covid cases and a record number of Covid patients at Watford General Hospital, revellers packed together in a number of locations around the town to see in the new year.

Details of the events are scarce at the moment but Watford Police reported on its Facebook page that officers had to break up a gathering of around 100 people in the west of the town.

One man, believed to be the organiser, was arrested after police say he refused to give details of who he was.

Police added they were called to "many" Covid breaches in the town, including gatherings and house parties, with warnings and fines issued.

Officers also searched for teenagers who were setting fireworks off at buildings and people in St Albans Road at around 11pm.

The parties threaten to undo any progress Watford may have made in bringing the infection rate down since the town was moved into Tier 4 on December 20.

Data released shortly after New Year will tell us whether the new measures have had any impact.

Any potential spread of the virus overnight could also pile further burden on West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which was already caring for 285 Covid patients as of 8am on December 30, according to figures published on the government's coronavirus dashboard.

Watford Observer:

Watford's mayor has slammed those who attended New Year gatherings.

He told the Observer this morning: "This really selfish behaviour is incredibly reckless and completely unacceptable.

"The number of Covid cases is soaring locally. Our hospital is under enormous pressure at the moment.

"Behaviour like this will mean it is even more difficult for NHS workers trying to prevent more lives being lost to this virus.

"I am grateful to the police for all they are doing but all of us need to behave responsibly to stop the virus getting out of control in Watford."

More than 2,000 residents in Watford have tested positive for Covid in December alone, and the town recorded the second biggest jump in infection rate in the whole of England in the seven days to December 27.

Watford's latest weekly rate stands at 890.5 cases per 100,000 population (860 cases), up from a rate of 566.4 the previous week, with cases spread across the whole of the town.

Watford General Hospital's chief nurse Tracey Carter had pleaded with people to stay at home.

Ahead of the New Year, she said: "Sadly we are seeing too many people coming into hospital with COVID-19, more now than in the Spring. Please don’t let you or your friends and family be one of them.

"Staff are already working flat out to look after patients and keep services running - but we can’t do this by ourselves. We need everyone in Hertfordshire to do their bit and do the right thing by staying at home wherever possible.

"If you do go out, wash your hands, keep your distance, cover your face, and spend as little time as possible out of your home."