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Police hurt trying to break up illegal rave attended by 700 people

Written by on 2 November 2020

Police in South Gloucestershire have closed down an illegal rave at a warehouse near Bristol – attended by up to 700 people – describing it as an “incredibly challenging operation”.

The Avon and Somerset force said they was called to reports of an unlicensed music event in Millbrook Road, Yate, at around 10.35pm on Saturday, and that “several officers” were assaulted.

Police arrived within 12 minutes of the call and found hundreds of people and a number of vehicles. A dispersal notice was issued requiring them to leave. Two people have been arrested.

Roads approaching the area were closed to prevent more people reaching the site by car, but large numbers continued to arrive on foot from several different directions.

In a series of tweets, the force said: “A secure cordon was put in place by 4am, but it is estimated approximately 500-700 people were on site.

“While a number of people have left, it is believed a significant number remain within the premises.

“Power to the building was cut but an alternative source is being used.”

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Police say when a number of people were stopped from entering the premises, they became violent, throwing items including “lit spray cans and bottles” at officers.

Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said: “We are working with neighbouring forces and the ambulance service to look to bring this event to a close in a controlled way that does not jeopardise the safety of people in the area.”

He also apologised for the disruption caused by the “selfish actions of the organisers of this event and those attending”.

He continued: “This unlicensed event was organised in secret, despite people being fully aware of the ongoing risk to public health due to COVID-19.

“Their actions were wholly irresponsible and I am sure will disgust the overwhelming majority of people who are making huge sacrifices to limit the spread of the virus.

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“Our investigations team will be involved in reviewing officers’ body worn footage and other enquiries as we seek to take appropriate action against those responsible.”

Meanwhile, around 300 people were dispersed by police after gathering for an illegal lockdown rave on a farm near Wigan on Halloween.

The unlicensed event was reported to officers at 8.45pm by the owner of the farm who had returned to the 320-acre site to find a large number of people defying coronavirus rules and loud music playing.

Seven police vehicles had tyres slashed when officers dispersed the hundreds of people who had gathered, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

Officers also found a machete in an area of bushes as they searched the site, on the border with Glazebury in Cheshire.

Despite police advice, many people made off on foot across railway tracks while trains were still active in the area, the force said.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “This event was unacceptable and a blatant disregard of, not only restrictions for COVID-19 and the safety of others, but also the safety of those present as we saw serious examples over the summer period of the dangers posed by attending such events.

“Thankfully our officers, alongside supporting resources from Cheshire, British Transport Police, National Police Air Service and Network Rail, were able to put a swift end to the event and prevent further large numbers people attending, as well as ensuring a safe and orderly exit from the site despite the challenges posed by the surrounding terrain.

“This event was a clear and flagrant breach of the regulations in place to keep people safe and a comprehensive investigation has been launched to bring the organisers to justice.

“I would also like to reiterate our message from the summer to those thinking of attending these events and those willing to drop their children off at these illegal gatherings; while many may attend to have a good time, not everyone goes with the same intentions.

“As well as being illegal, these events are not safe and the fact a machete was recovered from the site of this event is a worrying but important reminder that this very much remains the case.”

Greater Manchester is under Tier 3 measures, which means different households are banned from mixing outdoors, although this will be replaced by the new national measures for England from Thursday.

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Police investigating the event near Wigan said a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of not providing personal details for a fixed penalty notice, and a 36-year-old man was arrested for possession of class A drugs.

One woman was treated by emergency services for injuries not believed to have been caused in suspicious circumstances.

Anyone who organises illegal raves or gatherings or more than 30 people faces a GBP10,000 fine under current laws.

Days after the penalty came into force in August, organisers of an illegal rave that attracted up to 3,000 people in Banwen, South Wales, were fined the full amount.