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Illegal raves – what they mean for the police and the public

Picture the scene...it’s bank holiday weekend, the weather has been beautiful, the night is warm, windows are open but you can’t sleep over the thudding bass from an illegal rave. It's very frustrating.

We understand these events can be extremely disruptive for local communities. In addition to the lack of sleep for nearby residents, they can result in damage to local businesses, commercial units, the countryside and farmland. They can also be dangerous to both those who attend and the general public.

Raves

Sometimes it can be difficult to stop a rave and disperse people once the event has started. We understand for those living nearby, this can be extremely frustrating but we have to weigh up the risk and logistics of closing them down.

Superintendent Mike Prior explains: “If we become aware of a large rave taking place, we have to risk assess the implications of dispersing several hundred people in the dark.

“Often these events take place in remote places such as a disused quarry for example. We would then be faced with the challenge of moving hundreds of people, who may have been drinking or under the influence of drugs, along treacherous paths.

“If we got them all out of the rave site safely, there would then be several hundred people in a remote, rural location and this would pose further challenges - where would they go? What are the transport options in the middle of the night? We have a duty of care to them.

“Wandering down country lanes in the dark isn’t a favourable option and could be dangerous both for them and motorists.

“There is a risk they would also end up damaging people’s gardens or private property by looking for somewhere to wait in the middle of the night; or the risk that those who have driven to the event might then drive under the influence of drink or drugs. These are some of the factors we have to consider.

“Keeping people contained in a “relatively” safe place, where they pose a minimal risk to themselves, motorists and other members of the public is often the better option. We understand that it isn’t ideal but a degree of noise irritation is sometimes better than dispersing people and creating further risk.

“In the past I have been asked why we don’t just turn the music off, and often we will try to do just that and seize sound equipment at the appropriate moment.

"However seizing the equipment can sometimes be impractical so for the sake of a few hours, it is sensible and pragmatic to monitor the situation, keep people relatively safe and deploy our resources to other emergency situations where people are in danger or at severe risk of harm.”

Supt Prior added: “We understand that the majority of people who attend raves just want to have a good time, but they need to understand the wider impact it can have on landowners and nearby residents. They also need to know that you could be committing a whole range of offences including trespass, criminal damage, public order, to name a few.

“Rave organisers should be under no illusion, we will always take the most robust action available to us and will seek to prosecute when appropriate.

“If we seize equipment, which we would often seek to do at the appropriate moment, you could be liable for thousands of pounds if the equipment has been hired, and you aren’t then able to return it.“

Preventing raves from happening is a better, safer and more effective option. Local policing teams have been working with partner agencies and land owners across Somerset, identifying potential rave sites and taking action to make them inaccessible to rave organisers by putting various preventative measures in place, such as large entrance stones at quarries.

They have also been gathering intelligence regarding potential, planned events and this is where the public can help! There are signs to look out for such as:

  • Lots of cars and groups of young people gathering in unusual places such as industrial sites, small villages or remote rural areas
  • Interest in certain remote, rural sites such as quarries, particularly by people that look out of place or you wouldn’t expect to see
  • Cars and vans delivering generators to rural locations

Local businesses might also pick up on tell-tale signs:

  • Sound equipment or generator hire by groups of young people who are vague about their event venue
  • Sudden influx of young people booking B&Bs/campsites/taxis in rural areas

If you see any of these signs or have information about a potential illegal rave, then report it via the website or call the 101 number. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.