The organiser of a half marathon which was taking place in the vicinity of an illegal rave has hit out at the lack of action from the authorities.
Gloucestershire Constabulary have defended their decision to let the event go on for nearly 12 hours, but run director Chris Hammersley said it was not good enough.
Partygoers turned up in the Coleford area near the ‘old go kart track’ early on Sunday morning, just hours before the start of the Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon.
Mr Hammersley had to instruct extra marshals to cover the area, so the 2,400 participants were safe and no vehicles encroached on the route.
“Overnight security told me it was noisy all night and when we began to arrive we thought we may have a problem,” he said.
“With spectators there were around 5,000 people to take care of. We couldn’t have an infringement on our route and any of the people in the woods causing us issues.
“The leaders came back to the area they were in after about 50 minutes.
“As a citizen of the Forest of Dean, I’m annoyed about all of the permissions we need and have to jump through hoops to put an event like ours on.
(Image: Party Hub)
“It seems other people can just walk into the woods willy nilly and the authorities don’t move them on.”
Half marathon organisers have to obtain a permit from the Forestry Commission, who will meet police to discuss how to prevent future raves.
The noise and disturbance led to complaints from the local community. No arrests were made.
“I completely understand that the noise levels and disturbance involved in the illegal rave yesterday caused distress to a number of local residents,” said Inspector Andrew Hodgetts of the Forest of Dean Neighbourhood Policing Team.
“I’m currently reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding between police, the Forest of Dean District Council and the Forestry Commission for unlicensed events in the area.
“Our rural crime officers will be setting up a meeting with the Forestry Commission to help minimise the opportunities for these events to take place.
“Stopping them from happening in the first place needs to be the focus moving forward and this isn’t solely a police issue, but is one for ourselves and partner agencies to tackle as a collective.
“Hundreds of people attended the event and our main concern was public safety.
“Due to this a decision was made to not immediately close it down and disperse a large crowd from a densely wooded area in the middle of the night.
“It was instead successfully brought to an end the following day and a dispersal order was served.
“Officers are now examining evidence from the scene to look into any prosecutions against licensing or by-laws.
“I’d like to stress to the local community that we do hear your concerns and we are eager to help minimise the opportunity for these events to take place in the future.”
Organisers Party Hub used giant speaker stacks for the all-night party and they said ravers were fully co-operative with the police.
Mr Hammersley added that they were diverted away from the race route when they began to disperse.
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