More than 50 arrested as thousands attend illegal rave and set loose dozens of cows

Herd of cattle with calves run free after revellers ‘cut down fence to make dancing area bigger’

Chiara Giordano
Monday 28 June 2021 13:52 BST
Video footage appeared to show crowds attending the illegal rave in Steyning, West Sussex
Video footage appeared to show crowds attending the illegal rave in Steyning, West Sussex (__bugzzz/Instagram/screengrab)

More than 50 people have been arrested after an illegal rave attended by thousands led to dozens of cows escaping from their field.

At its height, up to 2,000 people were at the unlicensed music event in the West Sussex town of Steyning on Saturday.

Drone footage showed a long line of cars snaking up a country road, where police set up road blocks to stop anyone from entering or leaving the area.

A herd of about 40 cattle, including heavily-pregnant cows and calves, also disappeared from a field after a large section of fence was reportedly cut down to “make the dancing area bigger”.

James Wright, a local farmer and councillor for Storrington and Washington, said a group of 10 to 15 farmers were left searching for the animals, which belonged to his neighbour.

“To make the dancing area bigger they cut the fence down,” he told The Independent. “I don’t think they knew the cows were in there.

“They are all fine now but with cattle big stresses are always concerns.

“A couple are quite heavily pregnant and one actually gave birth the morning after being chased about.”

Mr Wright said incidents like this were “very rare thankfully” in Steyning, but added: “The thing I want to get across is that even though four-and-a-half thousand people think they’ve had the best of times, there’s a cost to the farmer, to the land owners and an enormous cost to the police and the human cost of how many people have caught Covid.”

Video footage shared on social media appeared to show crowds failing to socially distance as they danced in a field while music blasted out from a tower of speakers.

Sussex Police said officers sent to the scene in the early hours of Sunday were met with “significant hostility”, including one officer who was assaulted while attempting to detain an individual resisting arrest.

A police community support officer was also treated for a suspected broken arm after 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.

A 20-year-old man, from Redditch, was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of both drink and drugs in relation to the incident.

A second collision with another police vehicle was reported at about 7pm. The driver was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop, dangerous driving and failing to provide a breath test.

A large volume of music equipment, including sound systems and speakers, was seized by officers.

As a result, a further eight people were arrested after being identified as the organisers of the unlicensed event.

More than 50 people have been arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of offences including drink and drug-driving, possession of drugs and theft.

Police expect the figure will increase, making it one of the largest unplanned operations the force has experienced in recent years.

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.”

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