Sussex Police review call over Devil's Dyke rave

Rave Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Officers estimated some 2,000 people were present at the height of the event but numbers started to fall after road blocks were brought in

A review has been called for after about 2,000 people attended a rave at a South Downs beauty spot and police did not close the illegal event down.

Police called to Devil's Dyke said they did not stop the party on Sunday because of darkness, rain, the numbers present and the officers available.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said she was concerned over officers saying they lacked resources.

She said she wanted an internal review on how raves were policed in Sussex.

"The police can always call people in if they need help," she said.

"But if they have made an operational decision because there are 2,000 people there, and going in disrupting them would push people who are intoxicated, who are high on drugs, out on to the roads, then clearly that would be dangerous, and I could understand why they would want to contain them."

Drugs offences

Ch Supt Wayne Jones said the decision not to close the event was based on the number of people there and safety reasons.

He said he could not give a figure on how many police were available but estimated it was in "the low hundreds".

Police began to receive reports of the event at about 01:00 BST on Sunday and it finished early on Monday.

Officers estimated some 2,000 people were present with up to seven sound systems and about 400 vehicles.

The force said numbers started to fall after road blocks were brought in.

When people started to leave, drivers were breath-tested, but none of them were arrested.

Officers did make seven arrests for drugs offences, a driving offence, and failure to comply with a direction to leave.

After the event, landowner National Trust said the site was "trashed".

'Police powerless'

Spokesman Charlie Cain said: "It's a site of special scientific interest which is chalk grassland.

"Where the dance spots have been, where the vehicles have been driving, they've trashed that grassland, and done no end of damage."

He said the grassland could take five to 10 years to recover.

But an organiser of the rave, who gave his name as Dave, said the grass would grow and many people cleared their own rubbish.

He told BBC Sussex other raves had been shut down in London and the Midlands and a lot of people travelled from further afield to Sussex.

He said people would have found out about the event on a phone line, but nothing would have been advertised online.

Police would have been powerless to stop the event unless they had one officer for every 10 people, he added.

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