Dozens get driving bans for drink and drugs after 2,000 flock to rave in field

Driving bans totalling almost 40 years have been handed out following the countryside rave, held while the UK was under coronavirus restrictions

Charlene Rodrigues
Wednesday 02 February 2022 09:29
Police made 90 arrests at huge rave in field during lockdown, says Chief Inspector

More than 30 people have been convicted for drink and drug-driving related offences after ravers “swarmed” on the picturesque South Downs and then tried to drive off as police swooped in.

The raucous music event – held while the UK was still living under coronavirus rules – saw up to 2,000 people party to blaring music in a field in Sussex

Faced with chaotic scenes, police officers made almost 90 arrests and intercepted drivers attempting to leave the event near Steyning in June 2021.

While investigations into the organisers of the alleged illegal rave continue, Sussex Police said 31 people have so far been convicted of drink and drug-driving related offences with driving bans totalling nearly 40 years.

The raucous music event – held while the UK still lived under coronavirus rules – saw up to 2,000 people party to blaring music in a field in Sussex (@Newsagentprovoc/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, Chief Inspector Michael Hodder said: “Steyning, a beautiful place in Sussex, was overrun by those that were determined to hold an illegal music event.

“Of course once the police arrive people will starburst and people will run because they don’t want to get caught by the police.

“Now if you’re at a music event and you’ve taken drugs and you’re running from the police, you jump in your car and you drive under the influence – and that’s what we saw, in abundance.”

Pictures and video on social media appeared to show crowds dancing in a field in front of speakers pumping out music, while drone footage from the scene showed large numbers of vehicles lined up along country roads in the area.

A “large volume” of music equipment, including sound systems and speakers, was seized by officers and eight people were identified as the organisers of the apparent rave and arrested, police said previously.

Under coronavirus rules in place at the time, gatherings could not exceed 30 people unless they were covered by a legal exemption.

A police helicopter was able to capture scenes of the rave from above (Sussex Police/PA)

Various roads were shut as police dealt with the incident, and cars were stopped by officers as they left the area to check that motorists were in a fit state to drive.

Two police vehicles were involved in collisions with other vehicles as they responded to the large gathering, Sussex Police said at the time.

Those sentenced so far hail from as far afield as Devon, Wales and Sheffield and were charged with driving with alcohol and drugs including ketamine, cocaine, MDMA and cannabis in their systems.

Chief Insp Hodder, who heads Sussex Police’s roads division, said the revellers “swarmed” on the South Downs and caused “no end of distress” to residents as well as posing a danger to people on the roads.

He told PA: “It’s astonishing that it still takes place where we’ve got people that will drink or take drugs but have no regard to how that affects them when they’re driving a motor vehicle.

“We know that in our county there are lots of back roads, lots of unlit roads… and if you’re under the influence your cognitive skills are reduced and it’s a real safety issue.”

He said he and colleagues will continue to emphasise the often fatal consequences of driving under the influence.

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