Huge rise in number of illegal raves

By Dave GooderhamTHE number of illegal raves at one of the region's forests has risen by about 1,000% this year, it has been revealed.The figures for Thetford Forest were revealed after two unauthorised raves were held near Brandon on Saturday night.

By Dave Gooderham

THE number of illegal raves at one of the region's forests has risen by about 1,000% this year, it has been revealed.

The figures for Thetford Forest were revealed after two unauthorised raves were held near Brandon on Saturday night.

Forestry Commission operations manager, Mike Taylor, estimated Thetford Forest had been used for about two raves a week since May - about 40 so far this summer - compared to the four staged illegally there last year.

“We have had a succession of illegal raves in the forest ranging from about 30 people to a few hundred,” he said.

“This is becoming quite a pronounced problem and we are working closely with the police to resolve it. This is a big issue and I think with the constraints in policing numbers, they are doing the best they can.

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“It is a big forest and therefore difficult to secure - we have 20,000 hectares to lock up safe at night.

“We have not talked with the district council too much, but this is something we are also going to look at in the next few months.”

Mr Taylor's concerns were backed by police from Suffolk and Norfolk, who said they had dealt with a number of raves this year in Thetford Forest.

Inspector Adrian Dawson, of Mildenhall police, urged members of the public to contact them as soon as they heard or saw any signs of a rave.

He added: “Police have had meetings with the Forestry Commission in order to have a better co-ordinated approach to dealing with raves and to gain a better understanding between the agencies about what steps can be taken in particular circumstances.

“The meetings thus far have identified the need to try to stop the event taking place in the first place and, therefore, the police will try to gain intelligence about prospective events and attempt to identify the location and stop access onto the site.”

Mr Taylor said he felt ravers were unaware of the problems they were causing in the forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“In addition to causing several by-law infringements, one of the most serious issues is the impact these people are having on the local population,” he added.

“The forest is also a Special Protection Area under the European Habitat Directive for ground-nesting birds.

“We have a lot of rare plants, which are being driven all over, and we also believe we have already lost one rare butterfly colony. It is a very frustrating thing to try to stop and we feel rather helpless.”

A Suffolk police spokesman said they had arrested one person for criminal damage and four people for drug-related offences at illegal raves in the Brandon and Lakenheath area on Saturday.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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