CLOSE partnership working between Dyfed-Powys Police, Gwent Police, Natural Resources Wales, local authorities, Brecon Beacons National Park and LandMarc saw off three raves this Easter.
23 potential sites across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys were patrolled over the bank holiday weekend, in an operation known as Flamenco.
As part of #OpFlamenco, police urged members of the public to report suspicious activity immediately, so gatherings could be disrupted before they grew.
An event in the Brechfa forestry, Carmarthenshire, was thwarted when Natural Resources Wales staff spotted a suspicious bag of stones, and ribbons tied to gates and hedges, designed as a signpost. Police seized the items and the gathering was cancelled.
One resident in Gwynne Fawr, Powys, reported vehicles arriving in the valley, allowing three Dyfed-Powys Police units and a Gwent Police unit to attend and disperse five vehicles from the area.
A gathering of 14 vehicles was moved from the Tal-Y-Bont on Usk reservoir, Powys, after a report from a Welsh Water Ranger alerted police. A sound system was packed away but a number of people were made to stay in a layby because they were too intoxicated to drive away.
On Twitter, PS 298 Owen Dillon said: “Dispersed a small gathering at the Takybont on Usk [sic] reservoir after call from @DwrCymru then turned vehicles back from Gwynne Fawr assisted by @gwentpolice to disrupt their plans. Officers left to cover the road. #OpFlamenco.”
Illegal raves are extremely disruptive for communities and cause damage to farmland and the countryside. Dai Rees, land management team leader from Natural Resources Wales, said:
“Our forests and countryside should be available for everyone to enjoy but illegal raves can damage the environment, impact on wildlife and leave it in a dangerous state for other people.
“These events cause misery for visitors and local communities, and we’re already taking measures to make it more difficult for people to organise them on our land. But spotting the signs early and reporting them is also really important and means that we can take action early to stop large gatherings forming.
“Working together with the Police and local communities has proved invaluable and we continue to encourage people to report anything suspicious to the Police on 101.”
In a Tweet, Temporary Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Claire Parmenter, thanked the police officers and staff who worked on the operation, saying:
“Thank you to all the Dyfed-Powys Police officers and staff that have worked over the Easter break, some excellent proactivity and several illegal raves prevented through partnership working and intelligence sharing, diolch.”
Efforts to crack down on the events are continuing in the coming months, working to tackle the issues that unlicensed events bring, such as:
Safety concerns: people are under the influence of drink and drugs with no first aid or medical facilities at hand. It is difficult and sometime impossible to get ambulances to casualties.
Drink and drug driving.
Rubbish and human waste left at sites and the subsequent hygiene issues this brings.
Risk of fires.
Criminal damage and theft.
Illegal drug dealing.
Know the signs:
There are certain types of suspicious behaviour that are worth being aware of. If you see or experience any of these call police on 101.
Unusual numbers of vehicles, especially camper vans, vans or trucks, seen in the locality.
Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave
People may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.
If you suspect anyone who approaches you for land hire might not be who they say they are, please do not hesitate to contact police.
Social networks make it easier for organisers to spread the word – rave attendance numbers can grow hugely in short spaces of time, and locations can change quickly.
See more of the weekend’s activities by searching for #OpFlamenco on Twitter.