The Home Secretary has lashed out at the organisers of illegal raves, warning them they are “not above the law”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Priti Patel says the Metropolitan Police have responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed music events since June, calling their prevalence amid the coronavirus pandemic “unacceptable”.
Addressing those thinking of organising such events, Ms Patel wrote: “It is critical that you consider the potential impact of these events, otherwise we risk undoing all the hard work the majority have done to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
“I urge you to seriously consider the risks you’re creating for everyone in attendance, as well as the wider community.”
The Home Secretary also defended new legislation aimed at deterring illegal music events.
From today, those facilitating or hosting unlawful gatherings of 30 people or more may face a £10,000 fine.
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) August 28, 2020
Under the new measures, which came into force on Friday, organisers of illegal raves will be hit with £10,000 fines.
Meanwhile, people not wearing masks and participants in unlawful gatherings can be fined starting at £100, doubling for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
Ms Patel said the legislation represents a crackdown on “the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions”.
She added: “We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together.”
Her comments come after Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh told the PA news agency the legislation will mean “absolutely nothing” for enforcement in London.
“It could be good for areas outside London, but it means absolutely nothing to us here,” he said.
“People just set up a music box in the middle of the street and say ‘it’s not mine’, it’s utter nonsense.
“Raves are completely different to an unlicensed music event, which are a very difficult situation for my colleagues, who are abused and harassed and show amazing bravery.
“We need clearer legislation … we need to be more forceful, clearing the area immediately, close the area down, the Government need more forceful wording around groups of people gathering.”