Police broke up an overnight illegal rave party in a forest in eastern England on Sunday, just days after the British government introduced tougher measures to target “serious breaches” of CCP virus restrictions, including 10,000-pound ($13,000) fines for gatherings of over 30 people.
Dozens of officers, some holding protective shields, faced off with the revellers in Thetford Forest, Norfolk, in the East of England, but despite a few scuffles, the party was largely dispersed peacefully. There did not appear to have been any arrests and the police dismantled the sound system.
One participant in the Thetford Forest rave, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that people were just anxious to get back to socialising.
Itching to Socialise
“I understand people shouldn’t gather in groups of above 30 but people are itching to socialise and have a night out,” he said.
“People don’t want violence,” he added. “We’ve come here to socialise and then clear up after ourselves.”
Before the 3-day bank holiday weekend, a traditional time when British people often gather in numbers at public events, the government had said that “those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of more than 30 people may face a £10,000 [$13,000] fine.”
August Bank Holiday
National Vice-Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Ché Donald commented in a statement on the enforcement of the new government rules amid the ongoing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pandemic in light of the annual August bank holiday.
“Our police officers are doing an incredibly difficult job in testing circumstances but as always, they will be ready to deal with anything that may come their way over the long bank holiday weekend,” he said.
Donald also commented on press reports that indicated that greater numbers of police officers had been made available to tackle potentially illegal gatherings over the holiday weekend.
“I have seen in the media reports of ‘extra police officers’ deployed in preparation for any illegal gatherings or ‘raves’ that may take place over the weekend,” he said.
“This simply is not the case; we do not have a pool of extra officers ready and waiting to be deployed.”
Donald further explained that officers were being deployed from the “existing” pool of those on duty “to manage those ignorant enough to ignore the guidance designed to keep them and others safe.”
The PFEW statement pointed out that people who gather in numbers over 30 at family occasions can also “technically” face falling foul of the new laws, and Donald called for more clarity on this.
“It would be helpful if the government were clearer with their legislation in relation to large gatherings so that we can be more effective with policing such events,” he said.
“Many officers dispersing large gatherings are often subject to abuse and violence from the selfish individuals who choose to attend these, and this is completely unacceptable. We are not society’s punching bags.
“Over the last few months, we have seen a staggering 31 per cent increase in assaults on officers, who are just simply doing their jobs and doing their best to enforce the government guidance to keep everyone safe.”
The police have had to break up several illegal raves in other parts of England as the government tries to balance opening up the economy by loosening restrictions on socialising with protecting the public’s health.
Reuters contributed to this report