Essex police rave raid an 'abuse of power'

Ecovillage Network UK office at
Thu Aug 31 12:26:26 BST 2006


Police response to rave was 'an abuse of power'

POLICE have been heavily criticised for causing huge bank holiday 
tailbacks by closing part of the M11 to deal with an out-of-control 
illegal rave.

Essex Police closed both lanes of the carriageway in the early hours of 
Sunday morning after ravers had abandoned their cars to get to a 1,000- 
strong illegal rave near Great Chesterford.

Police stopped up to 40 partygoers crossing the motorway but then kept 
one lane shut for a further 12 hours.

Motorist Paul Hammond, of Milton Road, Cambridge, was stuck in a 
tailback for two hours.

He said: "It was a breathtaking display of arrogance and lack of 
consideration for the impact on the general public going about their 
normal business. It was an abuse of power, and smacks of incompetence.

"There was obviously no thought as to the implications of this action, 
and no regard to the fact that one of the aims of any police action 
should be to inconvenience the general public as little as possible.

"I am a law-abiding citizen, who has at times considered the police get 
a bad press for their actions.

"The events of Sunday make me suspect that much of the criticism is 
probably justified, and I have little confidence that the police have 
their priorities right."

Police made 30 arrests after clashes broke out between officers and 
ravers - some of whom were still at the party site until around 2pm.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "The road was kept closed until the 
party was completely cleared. We had to be sure there was no danger to 
motorists and revellers.

"Anyone with a complaint should write to us."

Ravers complained about the police's approach to clearing the site
* claiming it was heavy-handed.

Police spoke of being punched and kicked and coming under a hail of 
missiles. Farmer Robert Fairhead, who owns the land where the 
disturbance occurred, said: "I left control of the incident in their 
hands. I am sure it must have been difficult once there is a confrontation.

"I'm just glad I had got my harvest in otherwise it might have been a 
bigger job to clear up."

Rave on: students drive revival of illegal party craze

By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
Published: 29 August 2006

Images of police clashing with 1,000 revellers in a farmer's field at 
the weekend appeared to be a flashback to the rave scene of the late 
1980s and 1990s.

It was a series of similar confrontations that 12 years ago led to the 
Conservative government introducing new laws aimed at crushing the 
hedonistic dance and drug culture. Zero-tolerance policing and 
legislation that banned gatherings of more than 10 people listening to 
"music characterised by a succession of repetitive beats" drove many 
abroad, to dance hot spots such as Ibiza.

In short, it was assumed that the rave scene, if not dead, was down to 
its last few ecstasy tablets.

But it now appears that a new form of illegal rave is thriving. Police 
forces in the south of England have been logging growing evidence of the 
re-emergence of the rave.

The most recent detected was on Saturday night in a cornfield next to 
the village of Ickleton, near Saffron Walden in Essex. Two hundred riot 
police from five counties used CS gas, dogs and batons to disperse the 
1,000 party goers. During the clashes a police car was set on fire and 
nine officers were wounded, with injuries to police including a 
suspected broken collarbone and a severed finger. At least two revellers 
were also injured. Thirty people were arrested and released on bail.

Elsewhere, in Gloucestershire, two officers were injured and several 
people were arrested when police broke up an illegal party at a business 
park early on Saturday.

Police also sealed off a farm near Heston, Cornwall, on Sunday after 
receiving information that the site was to be used for a rave.

Forces admit there has been a surge in similar illegal raves, including 
one party in north Cornwall that was attended by more than 5,000 
revellers over the May bank holiday this year.

But according to party organisers, the new style raves differ from the 
dance scene that reached its zenith in the late Eighties and early 
Nineties. Most of the new gatherings involve much smaller numbers than 
in the past, with just several dozen or a few hundred people. This 
contrasts with the estimated 25,000 revellers who turned up to a 
week-long rave at Castlemorton, a traveller camp on common land in 
Hereford in May 1992. The mass gathering is considered to have brought 
about the end of the rave and heralded a series of police laws that 
include the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, and the Anti Social 
Behaviour Act of 2003.

The revival of the rave is apparently being pioneered by a new young 
generation, who possess their own "rigs" - portable sound systems with 
amplifiers, speakers and turntables.

The DJs use MP3 players as well as record turntables. They take them out 
to woods, quarries, fields and beaches with a small group of friends and 
dance all night.

Today's raves are no longer dominated by travellers, squatters and 
alternative cultures. Instead the new wave of free raves is being led by 
students and ordinary teenagers, who want an alternative to mainstream 
music and the alcohol-related violence, according to party organisers.

Unlike the 1980s, it is not trying to make any political statements, but 
is seen as a rejection of the current expensive and commercial pub and 
club culture.

More sophisticated technology has also helped party goers to dodge the 
police and organised secret gatherings. Ravers are equipped with global 
positioning systems to find remote events, and text messaging and a 
network of websites make it easy to get the word out about a gathering.

To promote the growing industry, club promoters and DJs are also using 
networking websites such as MySpace to advertise shows and parties.

The main drug of choice remains ecstasy tablets, although cannabis, 
ketamine, GHB and LSD are also popular among the revellers.

A relatively new method of getting high is from nitrous oxide (laughing 
gas), which is sold at some raves at £1 to £2 a balloon. It's not 
currently an offence to ingest the dental anaesthetic, once likened to 
the "air of heaven".

200 riot police break up illegal rave

· One officer suffers severed finger, eight more injured
· Patrol car set on fire as CS gas used to disperse 1,000

Paul Lewis
Monday August 28, 2006
The Guardian,,1859791,00.html

Two hundred riot police from five counties used CS gas, dogs and batons 
to disperse 1,000 ravers at an illegal party in Essex on Saturday night. 
Riots broke out in a corn field next to the village of Ickleton, near 
Saffron Walden, as partygoers clashed with police in scenes reminiscent 
of the zenith of the free party movement in the late 1980s.

The violence, which flared up sporadically until early yesterday, was 
sparked when a small delegation of officers tried to negotiate the 
break-up of the party but met "unprecedented and ferocious" resistance, 
police said. A police car was set on fire and nine officers were wounded 
during the clashes, with injuries to police including a suspected broken 
collarbone and a severed finger. At least two revellers were also injured.

Police blockaded the M11, a string of patrol cars lining a half-mile 
stretch of the road, and officers later enforced a 40mph speed 
restriction after ravers tried to cross the motorway to get into the 
heavily guarded fields where the party took place.

A minority of revellers attacked officers, hurling broken bottles, 
scaffolding bars and other missiles, police said.

Partygoers allege that officers used unnecessary force to close down the 
party. One of the organisers described the police's approach as a 
"proper fascist act of complete inhumanity".

By 6am officers had arrested 35 people on suspicion of causing a public 
nuisance and seized vehicles, generators, a sound system and a small 
quantity of drugs. Six hours later, as officers began to clear debris 
from the site of the previous night's battles, a hardcore group of 
between 50 and 100 people refused to leave the field in protest at the 
tactics used by police.

"It was terrifying," said Katherine, 21, from Norfolk, who left earlier 
in the morning. "Suddenly we were surrounded by policemen in full riot 
gear with shields and batons. They just came tearing through the field, 
battering people and even using pepper spray. Several of my friends 
suffered head injuries when they were hit and some were trampled 
underfoot as the police advanced.

"All we want is to have a good time. The authorities may have won this 
one but there will be other [parties] this summer."

Another raver, Billy, 29, from Suffolk, said: "There were hundreds of 
riot police surrounding a sound system, which isn't normal at an event 
like this, and a police Land Rover was being smashed up. The riot police 
were everywhere, surrounding the whole field. There were still people 
dancing. Then a helicopter came over and through a loud-hailer told us 
to leave the area right away. Police charged everyone; it was heavy-handed."

The party is understood to have started on Friday night and comprised a 
large dome, several tents and four separate music stages powered by a 

"I heard music on Friday but I thought it was coming from somewhere 
else," said Robert Fairhead, 69, the farmer who owns the field used for 
the rave. "I never expected to see anything like this in my lifetime here."

At about 7pm on Saturday, after Mr Fairhead contacted police, officers 
blocked the entrance to his fields and some tried to negotiate with the 

"We went there with the intention of negotiating the implementation of 
the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act," said Chief Superintendent 
Graeme Bull, from Essex police. "We wanted to maintain the peace and ask 
people to disperse. The majority of people were compliant and prepared 
to leave, but there was a significant minority who met police with 
unprecedented and ferocious resistance. Their conduct was disgraceful - 
weapons were used, missiles were thrown."

As tension increased, riot police were hastily drafted in from 
Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk to contain the rave, 
he said. "These sorts of raves are quite unheard of in this county - I 
have not seen this sort of violence since the old days of acid house."

He added that the level of aggression was "so intense" that police were 
investigating the possibility that there was an organisation behind the 
violence. But complaints about police brutality would be taken 
seriously, he said.

Police also sealed off a farm near Heston, Cornwall, yesterday after 
receiving information that the site was to be used for a rave.

In Gloucestershire, two officers were injured and several people were 
arrested when police broke up an illegal party at a business park early 
on Saturday.

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