Sussex rave: Organisers face £10k fines as police arrest 23 at illegal rave on South Downs

Nearly two dozen people have been arrested after police swooped on a rave taking place on the picturesque South Downs in West Sussex on Sunday morning.

More than 1,000 people are thought to have flocked to the lockdown-breaking event, and part of which is ongoing, police said.

Pictures and video on social media appeared to show crowds dancing in a field in front of speakers pumping out music earlier on Sunday.

Police have arrested 23 people after swooping on an illegal rave taking place near Steyning in West Sussex last night and on Sunday morning

Police have arrested 23 people after swooping on an illegal rave taking place near Steyning in West Sussex last night and on Sunday morning

Police have arrested 23 people after swooping on an illegal rave taking place near Steyning in West Sussex last night and on Sunday morning

Organisers of the apparent rave, which drew a significant crowd from outside the area, could face £10,000 fines.

Sussex Police said they responded to ‘a large, unlicensed music event’ near Steyning, West Sussex, on Sunday morning.

Dozens of police vehicles as well as ambulances were at the scene shortly before 11.30am this morning. 

At least 23 people have been arrested on suspicion of offences including drink and drug-driving, possession of drugs and theft, and have been taken into custody, the force said.

Various roads were shut as police dealt with the incident, and cars are being stopped by officers as they leave the area to check that drivers are in a fit state to drive.

More than 1,000 people are thought to have flocked to the rave, as pictures on social media showed crowds continuing to party in a field

More than 1,000 people are thought to have flocked to the rave, as pictures on social media showed crowds continuing to party in a field

Videos showed partygoers dancing in a field in front of speakers pumping out music earlier on Sunday

Videos showed partygoers dancing in a field in front of speakers pumping out music earlier on Sunday

More than 1,000 people are thought to have flocked to the rave, as pictures on social media showed crowds continuing to party in a field in front of speakers earlier on Sunday

Under coronavirus rules, gatherings must not exceed 30 people unless they are covered by a legal exemption.

Organisers of illegal gatherings of more than 50 people outdoors can face fines of up to £10,000.

Chief Superintendent Nick May said: ‘Our priority is ensuring the safety of the community and everyone in the vicinity.

‘We have a significant number of officers at the scene working to bring the event to a safe and timely conclusion.

‘This is an ongoing matter and we thank the public for their patience and co-operation at this time.’

Drone footage from the scene showed large numbers of vehicles lined up along country roads in the area in including Bostal Road near the event in Steyning this morning. 

Campers vans and tents have been pitched up on the side of the road, which was closed by police this morning. 

Sound and lighting systems were erected last night as people continued to party in gazebos this morning. 

Would-be partygoers still planning to go to the rave were warned not to attend the event or face police ‘action’, Sussex Police warned.

A Sussex Police spokesperson added on Sunday afternoon: ‘Emergency services have also been met with hostility at the site, with one police officer being assaulted.

‘A second officer has also been injured in a collision with a vehicle being driven by someone leaving the event.

Drone footage shows cars lining up on Bostal Road near an illegal rave in Steyning where hundreds were in attendance last night and this morning

‘The driver has been arrested on suspicion of driving while unfit through drink/drugs.’

A significant number of people at the rave are thought to have travelled from outside Sussex and officers are trying to identify the organisers.

‘There continues to be disruption on the road network in the area owing to a large number of badly parked vehicles, and people are still urged to avoid the area if possible’, the spokesperson added. 

Earlier today, Chief superintendent Nick May said: ‘Our priority is ensuring the safety of the community and everyone in the vicinity. 

‘We have a significant number of officers at the scene working to bring the event to a safe and timely conclusion.

Roads have been closed off in the area as drone footage shows the event's scale, with cars lining up the country road

Roads have been closed off in the area as drone footage shows the event's scale, with cars lining up the country road

Roads have been closed off in the area as drone footage shows the event’s scale, with cars lining up the country road

Current coronavirus guidance limits gatherings to 30 people unless covered by legal exemption

Current coronavirus guidance limits gatherings to 30 people unless covered by legal exemption

Current coronavirus guidance limits gatherings to 30 people unless covered by legal exemption

‘This is an ongoing matter and we thank the public for their patience and cooperation at this time.’

Sussex Police said: ‘We are aware of and responding to a large unlicensed music event in the Steyning area this morning.

‘Multiple road closures are in place and people are asked to avoid the area if possible.

‘Anyone planning on attending the event is warned not to travel to the site – officers will be taking action against those found doing so.’

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