United Kingdom

£10,000 fines fail to deter illegal ravers as thousands break coronavirus rules over Bank Holiday weekend

Police have clashed fiercely with revellers as they scrambled to shut down illegal raves across the country.

Bottles and cans were thrown at officers as they attempted to break up an unlicensed music event which attracted some 500 people in Thetford forest, Norfolk, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, up to 3,000 people – some thought to have travelled from other parts of the UK – descended on Banwen in south Wales.

Two organisers were handed fixed penalty notices for £10,000, in line with new coronavirus rules which came into force on Friday, South Wales Police said.

Revellers confronted riot police in Thetford forest (REUTERS)

Yet the party continued, with the force saying around 1,000 people were still there on Sunday evening.

Officers were braced to remain at the site throughout the night.

Superintendent Jason James said illegal events like the one in Banwen “have a significant impact on the community”.

He added: “Those gathering know that their actions are irresponsible and we are working with other agencies and utilising the legislation available to us including Covid-19 legislation but we need to ensure that any action taken is done so safely.”

Norfolk Police said the Thetford forest event had been shut down and they had made “a number” of arrests as well as seizing sound equipment.

An officer dismantles a sound system in Thetford forest (REUTERS)

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison, of Norfolk Police, said they had to draft in help from other forces and had deployed specialist teams of public order officers to go into the site and shut the music off.

He said they had “taken positive action to make sure the event didn’t go on into a second night”.

He added: “Officers did meet some hostility when entering the site with bottles and cans used as missiles and thrown at officers. Fortunately, no one was injured.

“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.”

People help tidy the debris in Norfolk (REUTERS)

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

The force also said one man has 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.

The force seized what they believe to be around £20,000 of music equipment from a garden at an address in the Chapeltown area of Leeds on Sunday, which officers suspect was being kept for an unlicensed music event.

It came after Essex Police said it had also seized thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment – but did not give an exact figure – ahead of an unlicensed music event the force said was due to take place in Harlow on Saturday afternoon.

West Midlands Police said it had dealt with about 90 reports from the public about possible breaches of restrictions by Sunday morning, “but we’ve not had to use our enforcement powers”.

National vice chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales Che Donald said the legislation should be clearer to allow policing to be “more effective”.

His words were echoed by Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh, who said clarity around the new legislation would allow officers to “be more forceful clearing the area immediately”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has defended the new rules, saying it represents 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 Metropolitan Police force alone has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June.

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