Police in Leeds given extra powers to stop illegal raves and seize equipment over Bank Holiday Weekend
Police have been given extra powers to disperse large groups and seize music equipment amid fears of illegal raves taking place over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
Dispersal orders which will cover the whole of Leeds are being put in place from Friday until Tuesday.
Alongside existing powers under the current Covid-19 legislation, the orders will allow officers to ask people to leave a specified area and not to return for 48 hours - or they will face arrest.
Under the orders, made under Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, officers can confiscate items being used in anti-social behaviour, such as sound systems or other music equipment.
Major events that would normally take place this weekend, including Leeds Festival, Leeds West Indian Carnival, and the Black Music Festival, have been postponed this year due to the ongoing pandemic.
Police have shut down several illegal raves over the lockdown period and there are concerns that similar events are being organised for this weekend.
Three arrests were made in May after 200 party-goers attended an illegal rave on an island in the Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve.
Another illegal music event in the Leeds underpass of the M1 motorway, which was attended by about 400 people, was shut down by police in June.
Police, council and public health officials have urged people to act responsibly and stick to the restrictions this weekend to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Leeds.
The Government has announced tougher penalties for those breaching the rules, including fines of up to £10,000 for the organisers of unlicensed music events or gatherings of more than 30 people.
The new measures will come into force from Friday and those attending raves could also be fined £100.
Superintendent Chris Bowen, who is leading the policing operation in Leeds, said: “We continue to work in partnership with the local authority and public health to encourage people to recognise the risks that taking part in such events or gatherings presents to individuals, their families and their communities.
“While we are committed to engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance with the restrictions, we know that enforcement may be a necessary option. The dispersal orders we are putting in place for the weekend will support our ability to stop unlicensed events and keep people safe.
“We do however hope that people will recognise the ongoing risks of holding or taking part in such events and do the right thing in everyone’s best interests.”
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