Police have explained why the organiser of a New Year party in Watford avoided a fine of thousands of pounds.

Officers on patrol in the town over New Year had to break up an illegal party at an address in Vicarage Road, just yards from the severely under pressure Watford General Hospital.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said around 60-100 people were found at the party, which breached Covid regulations.

At around 3.50am on New Year’s Day, a man inside the address was arrested on suspicion of organising a gathering of over 30 people and obstructing a police constable in the execution of his duty.

He was fined £200 and later released with no further action.

Observer readers questioned why the man had not received a larger fine, such as a £10,000 fine which has been given to some organisers of parties in England.

Hertfordshire Constabulary, which has issued 380 fines across the county for breaches of coronavirus law between March 27 and December 20, have since explained why a £200 was issued in this particular case.

A police spokesperson told the Observer: "When issuing fines in relation to breaches of Covid-19 regulations each case is considered and determined individually.

"In this particular case the gathering was not a profit making event, there was no evidence of advanced planning, there was minimal public disruption and all those attending were dispersed very quickly by officers."

The New Year party at Vicarage Court was condemned by Watford’s mayor Peter Taylor who described the behaviour of those who attended as "selfish, reckless and completely unacceptable", particularly at a time when Covid cases in the town were rising.

The director of public health in Hertfordshire fears New Year gatherings in the county will cause a spike in cases in the coming days.

Read more: End of year gatherings will cause spike in Covid cases

NHS figures released on Friday show the number of Covid patients being cared for by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General Hospital, has risen to 330, as of 8am on January 5.

Read more: Hospital trust caring for record-breaking 330 Covid patients