Illegal rave in Lewes was a living hell

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Furious residents have described the noise generated by music at an all-night illegal rave on the outskirts of Lewes as “a living hell” and “torture”.

The ear-splitting event took place at the weekend in fields at Lower Stoneham, starting on Saturday evening and continuing throughout the night and for most of the following day.

Police responded to a string of complaints about loud music, visiting the site on four occasions between 9pm on Saturday and 1.35pm on Sunday.

The rave is estimated to have been attended by between 300 and 400 revellers. When police first arrived it was believed the organisers had a licence for the event and they were asked to turn down the volume to minimise impact on the community.

However, officers later became aware that there was not a licence but that this was a private party held with consent of the landowner. Although there are powers for police to close down such gatherings which are unlicenced or breaching their licence, an assessment has to be made to determine whether or not such a gathering can be closed down safely and effectively.

Given the location of the event, the time of night and the numbers involved, police said it was not possible to do so on this occasion. Officers also took into consideration that many of the attendees had arrived in vehicles and had since been drinking alcohol. It would not have been safe to allow them to drive home.

Inspector Andy Eggleton said: “Raves are unlicenced, illegal parties often held on land which is not owned by the organisers. Where we can we will attend a report of a rave at the earliest opportunity to try to bring it to a safe conclusion. In this case officers attended on four occasions and asked organisers to turn down the music. The event was already well established upon police arrival and with 400 persons present, due consideration had to be given to the resources required to stop such an event and the safety implications for both officers and those present in attempting to do so.”