Lockdown rule-breakers are more likely to be fined as Covid laws will be enforced “more quickly”, the UK’s most senior police officer has said.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said her officers have had to break up parties, despite London hospitals struggling to cope with rising patient numbers.

A minister confirmed her pledge that fines were “increasingly likely”.

Kit Malthouse said people have a “duty” to make this lockdown “the last one”.

“We are urging the small minority of people who aren’t taking this seriously to do so now, and [are illustrating] to them that if they don’t they are much more likely to get fined by the police,” Mr Malthouse, the policing minister, told BBC Breakfast.

“These current measures should in theory, if we all stick by them, be enough to drive the numbers down so that we can start to move through the gears of tiers from mid-February,” he added.

Asked if tighter restrictions were on the way – something the health secretary has refused to rule out – Mr Malthouse said ministers were “on tenterhooks” watching the daily figures for Covid deaths, new cases and hospital admissions, as rules continue to be kept under review.

He said the government’s ramped-up efforts to give vulnerable people the coronavirus vaccine should help the UK to “get back to some sort of normality later this year”.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said there was currently no expectation that a more extensive clampdown of rules was on its way from Westminster.

The Scottish government’s cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss restrictions.

The latest figures on Monday showed a further 529 people had died within 28 days of a positive test in the UK, while another 46,169 cases were reported.

There are also more than 32,200 people in hospital in the UK with coronavirus, data shows.

Dame Cressida told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme some 75 police officers are joining 185 firefighters in being trained to drive ambulances in the capital, as London hospitals struggle with soaring numbers of Covid patients.

And writing in the Times, she said her officers had found people hosting raves, house parties and basement gambling events, despite high rates of the virus and clear laws that ban social gatherings.

“It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus,” she said, adding that people breaking Covid laws were “increasingly likely to face fines”.