Devils Dyke 'rave' finishes
26 May 2014
The open-air music event near Devils Dyke finished during the
early hours of Monday morning, 26 May.
There was a noticeable decrease in numbers, and sound systems,
as people left the area from about midnight and by 7am on Monday,
there was nobody left and just one car, which had broken down.
About 90% of the rubbish had been collected into bags and left at
the site by those leaving, assisting collection by the
During Sunday police had set up road blocks to help prevent
further people arriving, and we believe this, together with social
media messaging drawing attention to the road blocks, had an impact
on numbers and on the event winding down earlier than might
otherwise have been the case.
As vehicles left the area, breath tests were carried out on
drivers, and did not result in any arrests.
There have been seven arrests; five for drugs offences, one for
being unfit to drive and for a drug offence, and one for failing to
comply with a direction to leave the area. Only one of the drugs
arrests was on the site itself.
We are also carrying out an investigation into the organisation
of the event to see what offences may have been committed. This
will include liaison with Mid-Sussex Environmental Health over the
issue of noise pollution.
We had begun to receive reports of the event from 1am on Sunday
and overnight it was assessed that due to the darkness, rain, and
numbers present, it was not appropriate or practical to attempt to
close the gathering safely.
At it height on Sunday we estimated that some 2000 people were
present, with up to seven sound systems and about 400 vehicles.
We therefore took action to limit further access and there have
been no reports of disorder, or injury.
A number of calls were received from nearby residents in
Poynings and Saddlescombe during Sunday, complaining about noise
and the serious distress this event was causing them.
During Sunday officers re-assured local residents that action
was being taken to contain the gathering, to limit further
attendance, and to seek to minimise the impact on them. We very
much sympathise with their concerns and have done everything we can
in the circumstances.
Officers were on the site during the day and the gathering was
good humoured but very noisy.
Although there are powers available to the police to close down
illegal gatherings such as this, before exercising these powers an
assessment has to be undertaken to determine whether or not such a
gathering can be closed down safely and effectively. The assessment
was that it would not be possible or safe to close the event down,
given the number of police officers available,but a police
presence at the location was maintained and active measures were
taken to seek to prevent it escalating further.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said; "Such gatherings are
unlicensed, illegal parties often held on land which is not owned
by the organisers. These raves can cause a huge amount of
disruption to local residents and damage to the land.
"Where we can we will attend a report at the earliest
opportunity to try to bring it to a safe conclusion. When a large
number of people are already at the site it is not always possible
for us to shut down the rave safely with the police resources
available at that time.
"However we will always take action to contain the event, to
reassure local residents, and work with partners, such as the
National Trust in this case, to minimise the impact."
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