400 remain at illegal Welsh rave despite £10,000 fine threat

31 August 2020, 19:59

Around 400 people are still at the scene of the illegal rave in Wales, police have said
Around 400 people are still at the scene of the illegal rave in Wales, police have said. Picture: Twitter
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Roughly 400 people remain at the site of an illegal rave in Wales despite an ongoing massive police presence.

Around 3,000 people from across the UK attended the event which took place at a disused opencast coal mine in Banwen, close to the Brecon Beacons, on Sunday.

South Wales Police, aided by Dyfed-Powys Police, the British Transport Police and a helicopter, seized a number of sound systems and issued a dispersal order which many were still ignoring as of this afternoon.

People remain at the site despite the threat of receiving a £10,000 fine under the Welsh Government's new coronavirus laws.

So far, eight people have been issued with a court summons following the rave, which could result in them being fined.

Fixed penalty notices for parking offences have also been issued, while some people have had their cars towed.

Those who are still at the site have been told they must leave before the end of the day on Monday or they could be arrested.

Read more: Police issue first £10,000 fines to nine people over illegal raves

Read more: Roughly 3,000 people attend illegal rave in sleepy Welsh village

Assistant chief constable David Thorne, of South Wales Police, said officers had trouble moving people on from the 4,000-acre rally car racing site.

"When there are 3,000 people to enforce a dispersal order on it becomes a massive issue," he said.

"Even with the resources, we were able to deploy at short notice it wasn't sufficient to be able to move people on any quicker in a safe way.

"The fact we've got less people now with the officers we've got available we will be taking proactive and positive action if people don't heed the dispersal notice."

Local residents have complained after rubbish was dumped at the site and attendees defecated in and around the scene due to the lack of toilets and other facilities.

Read more: Illegal rave organisers 'not above the law' warns Home Secretary

Read more: Police leader says fines for illegal raves mean 'absolutely nothing' for enforcement

Mr Thorne said: "We think this is just completely irresponsible and disrespectful of the local communities."

He added: "We believe those present to be from all over the UK - many of them have travelled hundreds of miles to get here so this hasn't happened by accident.

"This has been planned, and possibly planned for a little while, but unfortunately they have been able to plan this under the radar so none of the authorities were aware."

He said that attendees had not been hostile to police, but added: "It's people who have got their self-interest at heart and they intend on having a good time in their mind whatever that means - whether it's drug use or alcohol use or just listening to music.

"The fact is that it's illegal and it's causing nuisance and disruption to local communities so we can't allow that to happen."

Police forces across the country have had to shut down multiple raves this Bank Holiday weekend despite the threat of heavy fines.

Norfolk Constabulary officers were pelted with missiles after breaking up a 500-strong rave in Thetford Forest, while in London the Metropolitan Police said it had shut down 21 unlicensed music events.

West Yorkshire Police said eight people were fined £10,000 following several parties across Headingley and Burley on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel defended the new rules, which came into force on Friday, saying it represents 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."

Meanwhile, thousands of pounds worth of equipment was also seized in the police crackdown in the Chapeltown area of Leeds and ahead of a planned unlicensed music event in Harlow, Essex on Saturday.