The Home Secretary has lashed out at the organisers of illegal raves, warning them they are ‘not above the law’.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Priti Patel says the Metropolitan Police have responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed music events since June, calling their prevalence amid the coronavirus pandemic ‘unacceptable’.
Addressing those thinking of organising such events, Ms Patel wrote: ‘It is critical that you consider the potential impact of these events, otherwise we risk undoing all the hard work the majority have done to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
‘I urge you to seriously consider the risks you’re creating for everyone in attendance, as well as the wider community.’
More than 200 revellers flouted restrictions at a rave in Birmingham over the weekend. Police dealt with more than 70 street and house parties in the city breaking Covid rules on Saturday
Police were called out to an illegal gathering in Northfield in the Birmingham area on Saturday – one of a number of events across the UK
Home Secretary Priti Patel has hit out at illegal rave organisers, who face £10,000 fines, warning them they are ‘not above law’
The Home Secretary also defended new legislation aimed at deterring illegal music events.
Under the new measures, which came into force on Friday, organisers of illegal raves will be hit with £10,000 fines.
Meanwhile, people not wearing masks and participants in unlawful gatherings can be fined starting at £100, doubling for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
Ms Patel said the legislation represents a crackdown on ‘the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions’.
She added: ‘We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together.’
Her comments come after Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said the legislation will mean ‘absolutely nothing’ for enforcement in London.
Crowds were also seen gathering at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes over the weekend – one of a number of events planned for this weekend
Rave organisers will be fined up to £10,000 from this Friday
New punishments for people organising and attending raves have come into force, just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend.
People facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more may now face a £10,000 fine.
Participants can continue to be issued with fines of £100, while those who have already been fined will see the amount double on each offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.
Fines for not wearing face coverings where it is mandated have doubled for repeat offenders as of yesterday, starting at £100 and doubling to a maximum of £3,200 for each repeat offence.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘These gatherings are dangerous and those who organise them show a blatant disregard for the safety of others.
‘I am pleased the police have already stepped up their response and I am giving them the tools they need to continue to keep us safe.
‘We will continue to crack down on the small minority who think they are above the law.’
‘It could be good for areas outside London, but it means absolutely nothing to us here,’ he said.
‘People just set up a music box in the middle of the street and say ‘it’s not mine’, it’s utter nonsense.
‘Raves are completely different to an unlicensed music event, which are a very difficult situation for my colleagues, who are abused and harassed and show amazing bravery.
‘We need clearer legislation … we need to be more forceful, clearing the area immediately, close the area down, the Government need more forceful wording around groups of people gathering.’
The warning comes as police forces across the country brace themselves for bank holiday bedlam after dozens of illegal raves were broken up last weekend.
Police broke up a series of illegal raves across Britain over the weekend, including in Huddersfield, Birmingham, Blackburn and Manchester.
And now officers are concerned about parties in London as police chiefs fear up to 35 illegal raves organised across London in place of the cancelled Notting Hill Carnival which they say could cause chaos this bank holiday weekend.
Officers are concerned they will have bottles pelted at them as they try to break up the parties – many of which have been branded the ‘real Notting Hill Carnival’.
Scotland Yard detectives are hoping to stop the gatherings taking place by scouring social media in an operation informally branded ‘Not the Notting Hill Carnival’.
Mr Marsh told the Daily Telegraph: ‘If the weather is half decent, we’re going to have a real problem.
‘We already know of around 35 unlicensed events to replace the Notting Hill Carnival popping up all over London.
‘We’re trying to prevent them happening by looking at social media and other things, but it’s a pretty hapless task.
‘What can we do? It’ll end up with more police officers having bottles thrown at them, and putting themselves in harm’s way.’
The weather forecast for the West London area this bank holiday weekend is sunshine and temperatures of up to 64F (18C), but the Met Office said there is unlikely to be any heat building.
The Notting Hill Carnival is an event regularly blighted by violence and drugs, with 353 people arrested and 30 police officers injured at last year’s festival.
Officers are concerned about parties in London as police chiefs fear up to 35 illegal raves organised across London in place of the cancelled Notting Hill Carnival which they say could cause chaos this bank holiday weekend
Boards are fitted to a property near Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, in west London, ahead of the weekend – even though this year’s event has been cancelled due to coronavirus
Scotland Yard detectives are hoping to stop the gatherings taking place by scouring social media in an operation informally branded ‘Not the Notting Hill Carnival’
The Notting Hill Carnival is an event regularly blighted by violence and drugs, with 353 people arrested and 30 police officers injured at last year’s festival
At least four shops are seen here being boarded up in Notting Hill today in anticipation for street parties over the Bank Holiday weekend
Another shop, belonging to estate agents, Marsh and Parsons, in Notting Hill, is seen being boarded-up up ahead of tonight
While this year’s Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, an online version will instead be streamed without the crowds
Businesses in London are braced for potential disorder as at least 35 events are planned to take place in the capital according to the police in place of Notting Hill Carnival
Thousands of people attend the Notting Hill Carnival in West London on August 26, 2019
Piles of rubbish strewn across the road following the Notting Hill Carnival on August 26, 2019. The festival is one of the biggest street festivals in the world
There were 111 arrests on the Sunday and 242 on the Monday at the 2019 festival – including 162 for drug offences, 34 for possession of offensive weapons and 37 for assaulting police.
While this year’s event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, an online version will instead be streamed without the crowds.
It comes as police were pelted with missiles in West Yorkshire over the weekend as they tried to disperse 300 people from an illegal rave in a town subject to a local lockdown.
In one weekend, illegal raves took place all over the UK on the final weekend before organisers of the gatherings could face a £10,000 fine
The ‘hostile’ reaction from the revellers in Deighton, Huddersfield, on Saturday night was in stark contrast to local residents – who came out of their homes to applaud officers.
Meanwhile, police in Birmingham also revealed they dealt with more than 70 street and house parties breaking coronavirus rules on last Saturday.
They arrived at one large street party in Northfield, on the outskirts of the city, just after midnight to find two marquees had been set up with a DJ providing the entertainment.
The force tweeted: ‘Most people understand why we are doing this – stay safe – don’t risk spreading the virus.’
Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary, has said confusion over lockdown guidelines is being used by some as an ‘excuse’ to break the rules.
The police chief said there was a ‘world of difference’ between people acting sensibly and others who were ‘flagrantly’ ignoring the rules.
Andy Rhodes says lockdown confusion is being used as an excuse to break the rules
‘What we’re looking at here is being proportionate, so if we think that people have thought about it and they are confused, we turn up and deal with the situation,’ he told BBC Breakfast on Saturday.
‘The vast majority of times across the country the police are just giving advice out and asking people to do things differently.
‘(But) we’ve had people who have clearly, fragrantly, ignored the rules and had a wedding for 200 people.
‘There’s no one anywhere who could misinterpret the current rules to say that 200 people in your back garden or in your house or in an area is going to be OK.
‘There’s a world of difference between good people who are doing their best to enjoy themselves and they’re a bit confused, and people that are clearly just ignoring the normal rules that the rest of us are trying to abide by.
‘Being confused is becoming a bit of an excuse for some people at the moment.’
His remarks came as Home Secretary Priti Patel promised a crackdown on illegal raves in the UK, with fines of up to £10,000 for organisers.
Mr Rhodes said that changing restrictions would ‘inevitably’ lead to confusion, but rule-breakers risked taking away some ‘freedoms’ that have begun to return.
He urged people to be sensible and ‘get the best’ out of alternative social activities.
‘Given it’s the bank holiday weekend, what we’re saying to people is be sensible, respect the work that some of the people have put into trying to arrange events sensibly, if they’re online, et cetera,’ he said.
‘Try and get the best out of those, but do it within the law and do it safely, without risking creating a spike in infections in your local community, because we have seen across the North West just how damaging that can be to the economy, to vulnerable people.
‘It takes away some of those freedoms that we’re starting to get back, so our message is enjoy yourself but do it sensibly and don’t go anywhere near anyone who’s trying to organise events that are illegal.’