Going to be doing some posts about the anti-rave Criminal Justice Act and the 1990s free party scene. 15 years ago the Act had become law and people were waiting to see how it would pan out. As we now know, with years of partying since, the CJA did not manage to stop free parties let alone shut down dance music, but it certainly made things harder. The following article was published in Squall, a magazine from the time that covered squatting, festivals etc.
'Police Shut-Down Free Parties (Squall, Summer 1995)
Police shut down two Bank Holiday raves at the beginning of May, without resorting to the Criminal Justice Act.
Attracting more than 3,000 people over the VE day Bank Holiday weekend, one of the raves featured sound systems Virus, Vox Populai, Jiba, Oops and Cheeba City. United Systems (US) organised the party at a disused RAF base near Woodbridge in Suffolk. Jim, a spokesperson from US, was at the event when police arrived: “I heard one of the poiice officers say, ‘We’re sorry we’ve got to do this but we’ve got orders from above’. The previous night they’d come on site to ask us to turn the noise down and we adhered to that and struck a deal where they were going to leave us alone and we agreed we’d pack up Monday evening. We were miles from anywhere and weren’t in anyone’s way at all. But at two ‘o clock on Monday afternoon they arrived on site to shut us down.”
The police confiscated tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment from all the sound systems present including Cheeba City’s 6K rig and their vehicles. However, as the CJA can only be used at night, the officers on site had to satisfy themselves with Public Order legislation to enforce the shutdown. Arguments between officers and several of the organisers ensued and four arrests were made.
US contacted Peter Silver, the solicitor who successfully defended the 23 people arrested at Castlemorton Common in 1992. Within two weeks all confiscated equipment had been returned
An event happening near Bangor the same weekend, featuring sound systems Transient and Babel, suffered exactly the same fate. Again in the middle of nowhere, the event was attended by up to 1,000 people over the weekend. Just after midday on Monday officers arrived to close the party down. Again organisers allege that the pollee said they were happy for the event to go ahead but they’d had orders from above. No arrests were made at the Bangor gig and although sound equipment was confiscated it was returned shortly afterwards.
A growing number of people on the free-party scene do not view these events as coincidental. There is a belief that, even where no public nuisance has occurred, local police officers are coming under increased pressure from the Home Office to eradicate unauthorised events'.