Steyning illegal rave: More than 50 arrested after flouting Covid rules at party on South Downs

Police arrested more than 50 people after shutting down a rave which was held on the picturesque South Downs in “complete disregard” of Covid regulations.

Sussex Police said that at its height up to 2,000 people were present at the “large unlicensed music event” in Steyning, West Sussex, on Sunday.

The force said people were arrested on suspicion of offences including drink and drug-driving and possession of drugs and theft, and have been taken into custody.

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More than 50 people have been arrested after police swooped on the rave taking place on the picturesque South Downs in breach of lockdown restrictions (@Newsagentprovoc/PA)
More than 50 people have been arrested after police swooped on the rave taking place on the picturesque South Downs in breach of lockdown restrictions (@Newsagentprovoc/PA)

At a glance: 5 key points

- The incident was “one of the largest, unplanned operations Sussex Police has experienced in recent years”

- A “large volume” of music equipment, including sound systems and speakers, was seized by officers and as a result eight individuals were identified as the organisers of the apparent rave and arrested.

- Pictures and video on social media appeared to show crowds dancing in a field in front of speakers pumping out music earlier on Sunday, while police said the event included a large number of vehicles and pedestrians near Bostal Road.

An illegal rave in Steyning being broken up by police (Photo: @Newsagentprovoc/PA)

- Sussex Police said officers “attempted to engage with those present, however were met with significant hostility”.

- A police community support officer was being treated for a suspected broken arm following a collision involving a police car and a vehicle being driven by someone leaving the event. The driver and passengers of the second vehicle were also taken to hospital as a precaution, police said.

What’s been said

Detective Superintendent Juliet Parker said: “Due to the mindless actions of a large number of people, the majority of whom have travelled from out of county, the community of Steyning has experienced significant disruption and I’d like to personally thank the public for their patience, understanding and co-operation as we sought to bring this event to a close.

“With a situation of this size, our utmost priority must be the safety of the public as well as our officers and emergency services colleagues at the scene.

“This therefore has required a significant police response involving officers from across Sussex as well as officers from surrounding forces. Officers who would have normally been dealing with serious crime and supporting the most vulnerable in our counties.

“These individuals have demonstrated a complete disregard for the local community, the heritage of the area and the existing Covid-19 regulations.

“We will not tolerate behaviour like this within Sussex, as can be seen by the high volume of arrests made over the course of the event.

“We will continue to robustly investigate this illegal activity; seeking to further arrest and prosecute wherever possible.”

Background

Under coronavirus rules, gatherings must not exceed 30 people unless they are covered by a legal exemption.

Organisers of illegal gatherings can face fines of up to £10,000.