Police vow to take action after huge crowds flock to illegal raves

Police have vowed to “do everything within our power” to prosecute the organisers of illegal raves, after the bank holiday weekend saw thousands descend on unlicensed music events.

Despite new legislation banning gatherings of more than 30 people and the threat of hefty fines, revellers flocked to parties which were then broken up by officers.

Two organisers at an illegal rave in South Wales that attracted an estimated 3,000 people – some of whom were thought to have travelled from elsewhere in the UK – were issued fixed penalty notices for £10,000.

Officers were planning to remain at the scene in Banwen in Neath Port Talbot throughout the night, saying around 1,000 people were still there on Sunday evening.

Superintendent Jason James said illegal events like that “have a significant impact on the community” and condemned those who gathered for being “irresponsible”.

Police in Norfolk were pelted with missiles as they shut down a rave at a site in Thetford forest where some 500 people had come together for an event officers believe was planned to last into Monday.

Bottles and cans were thrown at officers but none were injured, Norfolk Police said, adding that they had had to draft in help from other forces to shut down the event.

They said “a number” of arrests were made and sound equipment was seized.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see these types of events taking place when coronavirus continues to be a real threat to our communities.

“We’re working to identify the organisers and will do everything within our power, where evidence is available, to prosecute and bring them to justice.”

In London, the Metropolitan Police said it had shut down 21 unlicensed music events, having had 58 reported to them on Saturday.

Commander Bas Javid said while officers were working to engage with people and remind them of the restrictions, they would take action where necessary.

Speaking ahead of the weekend which would normally have seen huge crowds on the streets of west London for Notting Hill Carnival, which has moved online this year, he said: “Where we need to, we will take enforcement action.”

Earlier, West Yorkshire Police said eight people were fined £10,000 after several parties across Headingley and Burley on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday.

The force also said one man was been charged with causing a public nuisance after officers broke up a street party on Wepener Mount, Harehills, on Saturday. Five other people at the party have been fined.

Meanwhile, thousands of pounds worth of equipment was also seized in the police crackdown in the Chapeltown area of Leeds and ahead of a planned unlicensed music event in Harlow, Essex on Saturday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the new rules represent a crackdown on “the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions”.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, she said: “We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together.”

The new legislation is called the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions on Holding of Gatherings and Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020.