Police search for organisers of 3,000-strong illegal rave near Bath

Police waited until next day to break up party after being alerted to a gathering on a disused airfield

Police have said they are determined to track down the organisers of an illegal rave near Bath that was attended by more than 3,000 people and could be heard at least five miles away.

Avon and Somerset police were not able to intervene to safely halt the rave on a disused airfield north of the city once it had got under way on Saturday night.

Instead they called in officers who were on rest days and had to ask for reinforcements from neighbouring forces and break up the party once day had broken on Sunday.

Ch Supt Ian Wylie said the force had managed to stop a rave, possibly planned by the same organisers, earlier on Saturday in Frome, south of Bath. It is believed the organisers had a number of sites for the rave that allowed them to keep a step ahead of the police.

One arrest was made and sound equipment and vehicles were seized, which the police said they hoped would help them identify the organisers. They also launched an appeal asking for anyone with information about those behind the event to contact them.

Wylie said it had not been possible to break up the rave immediately, partly because it was pitch dark and raining. He also pointed out that the force did not have a “standing army” of officers ready to respond to such an event.

He said: “We’re sorry for the disruption caused to so many residents. It’s frustrating that we are having to pull officers away from our 999 response to deal with the selfish actions of the organisers of this event and those attending it.

“They knew full well the disruption this would cause and the ongoing risk to public health of large gatherings due to Covid-19. We brought officers in from their rest days and called on support from neighbouring forces to close down this event.”

Wylie said police had intelligence that a rave was planned for the weekend but he said the area the force covers, from parts of Exmoor to the Wiltshire border, made it difficult.

It said it foiled a rave that was being set up in Frome but it is believed the same group managed to get to the former Charmy Down airfield, Upper Swainswick, near Bath.

The first reports of the event were made at about 11.20pm on Saturday, but it was not shut down until the following afternoon.

Wylie said that the impact of the rave was felt by other emergency services, with about eight 999 calls to the ambulance service linked to the event.


Steven Morris

The GuardianTramp