Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
May 8, 2019

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A Barbour guide to business continuity

Farmers feel helpless as illegal raves make a comeback

Farmers, landowners and property managers are counting the cost after a spate of recent illegal raves.

Encouraged by unseasonably dry, warm weather, unlicensed events took place at rural sites and large, vacant urban properties.

However, it could have been much worse, with some police forces successfully thwarting events before they had a chance to get started.

One farmer described his fields as a ‘write-off’ after around 1,500 people descended on his Dorset farmland for an all-night event, leaving rubbish, broken beer bottles, drugs paraphernalia, empty nitrous oxide canisters, even human excrement, in their wake.

The landowner, Doug Ryder, told the BBC that “it was a grass crop for winter forage for cows – the grass is so trampled it won’t recover.

“Myself and the farmer have now got to clear up the rubbish – it’s a burden and a bit of a nightmare.”

Fragile ecosystem

Forestry England said an illegal rave held on 6 and 7 April at Haldon Hill, Devon – an area it manages – could have damaged the fragile ecosystem. The noise generated also prompted complaints to police from nearby residents.

In Norfolk on 23 March, meanwhile, officers seized music equipment and made two arrests after receiving reports of a number of people attending an unlicensed music event.

Dyfed Powys Police in Wales assigned officers to patrol 23 potential sites over the Easter bank holiday weekend. As part of the operation – known as Flamenco – police urged members of the public to report suspicious activity.

One event in the Brechfa forestry, Carmarthenshire, was thwarted when Natural Resources Wales staff spotted what appeared to be an improvised signpost: a bag of stones and ribbons tied to gates and hedges.

Dai Rees, land management team leader from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Our forests and countryside should be available for everyone to enjoy but illegal raves can damage the environment, impact on wildlife and leave it in a dangerous state for other people.”

Vacant buildings are easier to secure and monitor than large tracts of farmland

Farmers rely heavily on police intelligence, informed by their own vigilance and that of members of the public

The clean-up costs, which can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, make a compelling case for investing heavily in security measures.

However, monitoring and securing such large tracts of land, subject to the elements and remote from access to electricity, is incredibly difficult. This leaves farmers relying heavily on police intelligence, informed by their own vigilance and that of members of the public.

Nevertheless, the Country Land and Business Association has advised farmers and landowners to secure and monitor empty and remote buildings and restrict land access with locked gates. The organisation says that access to land should be restricted wherever possible by the use of locked gates.

In 2017, a Cambridgeshire farmer poured slurry on land to stop it being used by illegal ravers.

Farmer David Rolls said he decided to act after police “did nothing to protect us. I’ve probably lost tens of thousands of pounds from this.”

Illegal raves proliferated at the height of the Acid House movement in the late 80s/early 90s, before declining when the 1994 Criminal Justice Act ushered in the era of licensed, indoor superclubs.

But with the nightclub sector now ailing, there’s been a resurgence in unlicensed music events, rising 9% last year, according to property protection specialists VPS Security Services.


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