Manchester’s police and mayor have vowed to take a hardline approach to illegal raves during the coronavirus pandemic.
When possible, party equipment and vehicles will be seized and fines “or something much more severe” issued to attendees, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said, amid plans for road closures this weekend to hinder another expected party.
It comes after 6,000 people attended two illegal “quarantine raves” – one on waste ground in Carrington, Trafford, at which three people were stabbed, a woman was raped, and there was one suspected drug death.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the events had placed “a huge strain on police resources and [put] people’s lives at risk”, warning that “there is no question of us turning a blind eye or adopting a permissive approach” in future as he pledged a “stronger, more robust and interventionist” response.
Speaking at an online press conference, GMP Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey admitted a “lack of intelligence” put the force in “response mode” in Carrington, and meant that officers were unable to prevent a second, 4,000-strong party at Daisy Nook Country Park in Oldham.
A joint intelligence group of officers and local authorities will aim to combat future gatherings with the public’s help, Mr Bailey revealed, saying: “We rely on that information from communities, from parents, from those people who are concerned about their friends going to these events.
“Please, please if you know about these events then make sure you are telling the authorities, make sure you are telling Greater Manchester Police, so we have the best opportunity to prevent them from occurring.
“One of our serious concerns is the safeguarding of all those people who attend these events.
“What we saw last week was police officers having to cross really unsafe terrain to get to an injured young man who had been stabbed and they had to provide first aid in that environment because the ambulance crews were unable to directly get there.
“The safeguards at organised events just will not exist at these events. If something does happen, we cannot guarantee your safety, we cannot guarantee getting into that event, we cannot guarantee getting to you promptly, we cannot guarantee getting the right medical services to you.”
Officers intervened in Carrington only after they were alerted to the stabbing of an 18-year-old, to whom they gave life-saving first aid. He is now recovering in hospital.
Mr Bailey conceded there could be occasions in which senior officers decide it is too dangerous to close down a rave due to its scale and factors such as terrain and darkness but he vowed action would be taken to gather enough evidence to secure convictions.
He said: “I guarantee that where we can we will seize equipment from those people who organise this, where we can we will seize vehicles from those people who attend on land, where we can and it is appropriate we will issue penalty tickets to people.”
Mr Bailey said the force had intelligence that unidentified individuals were planning more raves but the information was not specific. He suggested “elements of organised crime” were behind such events.
Mr Burnham said: “What happened last weekend was unacceptable, putting a huge strain on police resources and putting people’s lives at risk.
“I want to minimise the chances of this happening again, which is why I have asked GMP to develop a clear multi-agency action plan with the aim of preventing or disrupting any future raves.
“We can’t say for certain that we can prevent all such events from taking place again. But we can say to Greater Manchester residents that there is no question of us turning a blind eye or adopting a permissive approach.”
Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor Beverly Hughes added “we will bear down now … with everything we’ve got” to prevent such events, which she claimed were a “complete free-for-all for serious criminals” last weekend, adding: “The last thing we want is a summer of raves.”
Additional reporting by PA
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