Thursday, July 08, 2010

UK Teknival in Wales: Drop the Charges against the 'Dale Rave Six'

This from Schnews (18 June 2010):

'Around 2,500 partygoers descended on Dale Aerodrome in Wales last May bank holiday for the 2010 UK Teknival, only to be met with a massive police response. Police broke up the party on the first day, arresting 17 people in the process. Four remain on police bail and six have been charged. Automatic number plate recognition, a police photographer, hand-held camcorders, helicopters and even a plane were used by police in a sophisticated surveillance operation which resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment and vehicles being seized (not to mention a similar amount spent on the police operation no doubt)...

This year as hundreds of vehicles congregated near the small village of Dale on the coast of southwest Wales, four policemen attempted to block the road leading to the disused aerodrome site, causing a massive tailback which brought traffic to a standstill for three hours. One witness reports they were stuck at least five miles behind the front of the jam. Eventually, after someone brought out a 12 volt rig and people started dancing in the road, the policemen moved aside and actually directed everyone onto to the site, negotiating with a landowner to get a gate opened.

As a result of the blockade, soundsystems didn’t begin setting up until the early hours of Sunday morning. By about midday the next day, police, the local council and the BBC were all on the scene. Fairly positively-slanted BBC interviews with partygoers were broadcast nationally and posted online, although the second has since been removed from the BBC website. Mid-afternoon Sunday a helicopter flew overhead, broadcasting something that might have been the words of Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 over a loudspeaker. The message was inaudible due to loud music being played on the ground; even those straining their ears to hear only caught snatches of it, and witness accounts vary. It was apparently a warning to leave within between one, four, or twenty-four hours.

Whichever it was, at this stage the majority of soundsystems started packing their rigs into their vehicles as ordered by the police. It became clear then that the three day mega-rave everyone was expecting had been thwarted. The atmosphere of unease and fear generated by the authorities caused a mass exodus of ravers who would otherwise have stayed to help to clean up the site after the party. Most people left the site in a hurry, although some efforts were made to clear rubbish. As each soundsystem drove off site their driver was stopped and arrested, their equipment was seized and their vehicles were impounded. Only the luckiest got away. Confiscated items include work tools, vinyl collections, several vehicles without sound equipment in them, a hire van, and hired and borrowed music equipment. Police deliberately kept the hire van for two weeks, making the total cost £950.

Along with one other soundsystem that left early on Monday morning, a well-known deep house music soundsystem stayed behind and continued playing music and partying until mid-afternoon on Monday, when more than twenty police, including the Chief of Dyfed-Powys Constabulary, came over and physically handed out a Section 63 notice, telling people to leave within one hour. They explained that they had drunk too much to drive and asked if they could stay until the next morning. The officers agreed that they could stay on site and drive home in the morning on condition that they packed their equipment into the van immediately.

Whilst negotiations were taking place, a disabled traveller started to play punk music on his car stereo, which police then confiscated from his live-in vehicle. “He wasn’t even playing repetitive beats,” recalls one partygoer, “he was a disabled man playing music in his own home and the police seemed to illegally enter his home and steal his stereo.”

Police then left the site, but an hour later, a low-loader recovery vehicle arrived to tow the van containing the soundsystem, followed by four riot vans and about fifteen police cars. There were less than fifty people left on site at this point. A woman whose partner was detained overnight was forced to sleep outside the police station as she awaited his release because their van had been impounded leaving her nowhere to sleep and no way of returning home. Despite this, the police refused to let her stay inside.

Four people were released on police bail pending further investigation and the ‘Rave Six’, as the mainstream media has dubbed them, have been charged under Section 136 of the Licensing Act 2003 for carrying out unlicensed licensable activity. The six have now been released on unconditional bail and are due to return to Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on 24th June. Four of the six arrested were merely friends from the last soundsystem to leave the party and had nothing to do with the overall organisation of the event. (It’s highly probable that the other two didn’t either). Offenders under Section 136 are liable for up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to £20,000'.

More information: Drop the Charges Over UKTek (Facebook group)

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