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Relief for National Trust

PUBLISHED: 09:54 15 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:51 03 July 2010

A NORFOLK beauty spot has escaped major damage after 120 people attended this year's first illegal rave on the National Trust-owned site.

Relieved officials from the trust said it would not have to launch a large-scale clean-up operation at the Horsey Gap, near Stalham, because police shut down the rave before it got into full swing on Sunday morning.

A NORFOLK beauty spot has escaped major damage after 120 people attended this year's first illegal rave on the National Trust-owned site.

Relieved officials from the trust said it would not have to launch a large-scale clean-up operation at the Horsey Gap, near Stalham, because police shut down the rave before it got into full swing on Sunday morning.

Last May the area of outstanding beauty and site of special scientific interest resembled a battlefield after hundreds of ravers left a trail of destruction behind, including litter, drug needles and fire damage.

Because of the damage, the trust decided to close gates leading to the Horsey Gap if it believed a future rave was going to happen. However, the gates were not closed at the weekend because there was no police intelligence that a rave was planned.

The trust said it had no plans to change security measures at the Horsey Gap.

Claire Graves, National Trust communication officer, said: “We are all about opening up this site to the public and it is inconvenient, to say the least, that because of a group of irresponsible people we have to close the gates.”

The police response to the Horsey Gap rave has been criticised by one of the ravers, a 19-year-old from Norwich, who said it was unnecessary to call out the force helicopter and public order unit to break up the illegal party.

Police say their response was in proportion to the number of people attending the rave.

Three people were arrested and a large amount of sound equipment was seized by officers at the rave, which started about 1.50am.

Holding raves - which will often cause damage worth thousands of pounds and days of disruption for people who live nearby - is becoming increasingly difficult because of a new zero-tolerance approach by Norfolk and Suffolk police.

A special command centre now monitors any possible raves and can call on additional resources - including support from police in neighbouring Suffolk - to investigate and then disrupt a rave if it is under way.

Chief Supt Tony Cherington said: “The aim is to stop them and it is for two reasons. Firstly, because of the nuisance to the public; there is damage and litter which often means the area in question can't be used the next day. Also there is the noise element.

“Secondly, because of the danger for people attending. If you or I wanted to set up a pop concert we would have to make sure we had proper security and that we followed health and safety regulations. The organisers of raves do no such thing.

“Often these events are in the middle of nowhere, young people might have been drinking and there is probably no mobile reception so if anything did happen it would be very difficult to get help.”

The new zero-tolerance approach is relatively new in Norfolk.

Chief Supt Cherington said: “The organisers would time the start to coincide with kicking-out time, so our resources were already over-stretched and they were often in very remote locations which made them away from the resources we did have.

“The change came from our chief constable who had a number of complaints from the public and was determined to put a stop to it.”

Chief Supt Cherington said he is not surprised at the lengths people will go to attend them, including placing themselves in danger.

“We were all young once and people do whatever is fashionable at that time,” he said. “At the end of the day, most people are not violent and are not looking for confrontation, especially when there are significant numbers of police involved.”

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