Thousands of illegal ravers break coronavirus rules despite £10,000 fines

Thousands of people from across the UK attended illegal raves this weekend, with police attempting to break up mass gatherings being pelted with missiles.

Despite new coronavirus laws to deter unlicensed music events, some 3,000 people descended on Banwen in Neath Port Talbot, South Wales for an illegal rave this weekend.

Officers were still at the scene last night reporting around 1,000 people were still there.

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

Superintendent Jason James said illegal events like that held 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.’

Elsewhere, police in Norfolk were pelted and sworn at as they shut down a rave at a site in Thetford forest where some 500 people had come together for an event officers believe was planned to last into Monday.

Bottles and cans were thrown at officers but none were injured – but officers from other forces had to be drafted in to help shut the event down, police said.

A ‘number’ of arrests were made as well as officers seizing sound equipment.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said: ‘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.’

In London, the Metropolitan Police said it had shut down 21 unlicensed music events, having had 58 reported to them on Saturday.

Commander Bas Javid said while officers were working to engage with people and remind them of the restrictions, they would take action where necessary.

Speaking ahead of the weekend which would normally have seen huge crowds on the streets of west London for Notting Hill Carnival, which has moved online this year, he said: ‘Where we need to, we will take enforcement action.’

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.

Police 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.

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’.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the new rules on raves represent 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 new legislation is called the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions on Holding of Gatherings and Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020.

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