Tuesday, April 03, 2012

UK Police and free parties update, March 2012

A bank holiday weekend coming up and there are the usual warnings from police forces across the UK of 'zero tolerance' of free parties. Still, 18 years after the anti-'rave' Criminal Justice Act passed into law, the parties still coming - and so are the police.

'Police are set to swoop on raves' (Oxford Times, 2 April 2012)

'Police have extra manpower on standby to deal with any illegal raves over the Easter weekend. Thames Valley Police say Easter is historically a “hot spot” for these gatherings and they are urging members of the public to keep an eye out. Inspector Emma Baillie said: “I encourage land owners and communities in the Thames Valley area to report raves being set up as soon as possible.” '
'Squatters evicted from £4.2m Clifton Wood mansion in Bristol' (This is Bristol, 2 April 2012)
'Squatters have been kicked out of multi-million pound Clifton Wood mansion, leaving it trashed. Once Bristol's most expensive property – on the market for £4.2 million – many of the house's rooms today lay in tatters. In the end, it took more than 50 police officers to clear the building.

Yesterday's eviction came after nearby residents began complaining on Saturday evening about a noisy party at the gated mansion in Clifton Wood Road. The party continued to get louder throughout the evening, with more people seen going into the property, which squatters moved into in February. Officers got into the main room in the house where the party was being held at about 6am yesterday, but were met by a group of around 35 "hostile" revellers. Some of the squatters climbed onto the roof to pelt officers with bottles.

Police arrested four people and continued to monitor the property before returning at 7.30am. A fracas between police and squatters then broke out in the street, believed to have been sparked when further sound equipment was seen being taken into the house. Three officers received minor injuries during the incident.

Dozens more police – around 50 officers in total – arrived at the scene and streets around Clifton Wood Road were closed off for most of yesterday morning. Officers then entered the house and removed the squatters. Eleven people were arrested during the night and are currently helping police with their inquiries. The building has been left strewn with rubbish.The kitchen lies in tatters with graffiti scrawled across the walls and the indoor swimming pool has been partly filled and strewn with rubbish.A private security firm was called in to board up and secure the property to stop further squatters getting inside.

Following an order of possession being granted last week at Bristol County Court in favour of the building's owners, The Bank Of Scotland, bailiffs had been planning to evict the squatters. Some squatters – many who said they moved to the mansion after being evicted from the Occupy Bristol  Camp at College Green – accused the police of brutality and told the Evening Post they had captured the police's "forced entry" on video. The squatters claimed the police did not have a warrant to evict them and that they were simply holding a party for a friend's birthday.

Police told Evening Post they cleared the building using powers to stop raves under the Criminal Justice Act and no warrant was needed. Traveller Dexter Josephs, 19, said: "We were just having a party for a friend's birthday and we were not making a noise." Fellow squatter Raoul Duke, 22, said: "The police have treated us quite horribly. All the neighbours have been fine with us. The police asked us to turn down the music, which we did. They were outside in the riot vans and then kicked in the doors and pushed through the metal gates. We locked what doors we could inside to slow them down, but they continued to boot in the doors. They put my arm behind my back and pushed me out. We don't feel we have done anything wrong. Essentially, this course of action has just left around 35 people homeless."....

[nb - this wasn't somebody's home that had been squatted, the owners are a bank which presumably means that it was repossessed at some point and then left empty. Video footage has emerged showing police making some violent arrests during the eviction]

'Easter rave warning from police after 13 arrests at Burnham Market' (EDP, 2 April 2012)

'A fresh warning against raves has been issued by the police after 13 people were arrested early on Sunday morning from farmland in Burnham Market. The rave was held close to Old Sussex Farm Road in the North Norfolk village and involved about 500 people and 150 cars. Out of the 13 arrests made yesterday, 10 of them were for people who ignored a legal order to leave the area. The other three were arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs.

Most of the people at the rave left peacefully after a number of the legal orders were made.The people who were arrested have been bailed until the middle of this month. Sound equipment, including power generators, were also seized and three vehicles were impounded. Several fixed penalty notices were also issued for road related offences, including seat belt and speeding offences. In the lead up to Easter, officers have warned that there will be a zero tolerance approach to raves across the county.

Chief Supt Nick Dean said: “The event at the weekend at Burnham Market is a timely reminder of the action that we will take with regards to raves. We will intervene and, where necessary, not hesitate to make arrests and seize equipment. It’s important to remind people that we will continue to work with the organisers of licensed musical events.Unlicensed musical events or raves are unsafe and disruptive to our local communities...'

'Illegal rave in Norwich shut down after complaints' (BBC, 18 March 2012)

'Police were called to shut down an illegal rave in Norwich after complaints from nearby residents. A large crowd of more than 150 people gathered under the A146 flyover off a field in White Horse Lane in Trowse just after midnight. Members of the public complained to police about amplified music, which was switched off at about 09:15 GMT.

One person was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs, a Norfolk police spokesman said.Supt Mike Fawcett said: "It has been an exceptionally challenging night for police resources across the county and we have had to take this into account in assessing our response to this event, as well as work within the powers granted to police under current legislation.

"Officers have been working throughout the night to identify key participants and negotiate to bring this illegal event to an end as quickly and safely as possible for all concerned.We acknowledge that local residents have been disturbed by the amplified music and we will seek to take further action against those involved."'

'Cops' actions at illegal rave defended after being branded 'brutal'' (Milton Keynes News, 8 March 2012)

'Ninety police officers that closed down an illegal rave have been criticised for their ‘brutal’ and ‘heavy handed’ tactics. CS gas and batons were used against some of the 200 revellers who had turned up to an Old Wolverton warehouse in the early hours of Sunday.The force helicopter was also deployed as police faced a barrage of bottles, coins and pieces of wooden pallets as they struggled for two-and-a-half hours to shut down the party. Some officers even had a car driven at them ‘at speed’.

But now some of those who were at the event have hit out at Thames Valley Police, saying the force used was over the top compared to the trouble they were facing. One man who wanted to remain anonymous said: “The police came in full riot gear – we were not there in riot gear, we were trying to have fun not riot. The police were shouting and threatening young lads who were just trying to see what was going on – 90 police officers in riot gear and a helicopter is excessive for a group of youths having fun, the police were trying to cause a fight with the heavy handed way they stormed in.”

A barrage of comments have also been sent to MK NEWS following the incident. One reads: “I saw many armed officers brutally attacking unarmed men and women with truncheons and pepper spray.” Another claims a woman walked over to a fallen officer to see if he was alright when she was hit with batons...'

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