Ravers face tough action - police chief

Dozens of police officers will be on standby at weekends to crack down on raves following a spate of illegal parties, Norfolk's deputy chief constable warned last night.

Dozens of police officers will be on standby at weekends to crack down on raves following a spate of illegal parties, Norfolk's deputy chief constable warned last night.

Ian Learmonth said the force is seeking to take “robust action” against anyone involved in unlicensed events, insisting that additional resources will be deployed at short notice to stamp out suspicious activity.

The zero-tolerance message follows two crackdowns over the last two weeks when helicopters and more than 100 officers, some with dogs, dispersed thousands of ravers in the Swaffham and Thetford areas and seized a large quantity of sound and light equipment.

“Norfolk is a popular place for people to come and set up their unlicensed events, because it's a rural county, there are lots of places with open spaces away from people and these seem very attractive to ravers,” said Mr Learmonth.

“We've got an ongoing operation that's been running for the last two weeks and that will continue for the foreseeable future.

“We shall deploy additional resources at weekends, and there will be a specific budget set aside to support and deal with this type of events.”

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Four people were arrested in connection with drug offences as about 400 people congregated off Fire Ride 48 at Feltwell, near Thetford, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“I can certainly confirm that there were four arrests of people who were caught in possession of drugs,” he said.

“There is no information at the moment to suggest any links with organised crime gangs, but certainly there were people arrested for possession of drugs.

“There were other people reported for a number of offences around the use of vehicles and for their behaviour. But the operation was mainly intended to stop the unlicensed music event that was taking place.”

The previous weekend, riot police dispersed more than 1,000 ravers as they flocked to Swaffham to set up an illegal party.

More than 100 officers mounted a massive operation following a tip-off that a rave was planned in the town or Thetford Forest last weekend.

The A1122 to the Marham turn was closed to traffic between 10.30pm and 1am as officers worked against the clock to disperse the ravers and seize equipment.

Two people were arrested and a number of revellers issued with tickets relating to traffic offences. Others who intended to offer food and drink during the event will now be investigated by environmental health and the Inland Revenue.

Norfolk has been a notorious hotspot for ravers over the last year, causing anguish for farmers and landowners who feared for their properties and had raised concerns about potential injuries or deaths on their land.

Tony Bone, speaking for Farmwatch, a scheme set up to prevent rural crime, said there has been a rave “in one part or another of Norfolk” every weekend since Christmas.

“Raves cause a lot of nuisance, debris and damage to farmers and landowners,” he said. “Moreover, there is always a concern about health and safety and we are extremely worried that due to the use of drugs during such events, an accident could occur.”

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