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Illegal Raves: Occupation & event setup

Illegal Raves: Occupation & event setup 


With projected easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, there is an expectation that the number of illegal raves happening will see a rapid increase. In order to combat illegal raves, it is important to have an understanding of how these are organised and what measures (both passive & active) can be implemented to help protect businesses & landowners against these. 

This document is part of a series that aims to help provide an understanding along with methods to tackle the key stages of an illegal rave. The second stage is occupation & event setup. 


Occupation & Event setup 


 This is the second stage to any illegal rave and consists of: 

  • Property entry 
  • Security 
  • Venue setup 
  • Event setup 

Using an entry point as identified by the location scout, the organisers of a venue will gain entry and then begin the process of preparing a venue for an illegal rave. Once entry has been gained, the entry route will be sealed/blocked and a secondary route will be used, this is often a fire exit or a main roller shutter door for bringing in equipment. Inside the building alarms will be deactivated/damaged/destroyed and measure put in place to proof against what they are doing within the building, this can: be painting over windows, sticking sheets of paper to windows, using cardboard boxes/signs or roof tiles to block view. Any doors with keys for access will also likely be disabled, traditionally this used to be in the form of chains & padlocks or screwing doors shut, but more recently this has evolved into simple measures such as using super glue inside the barrel of a lock to prevent keys fitting. 

With the venue secured, the organisers can start to bring in equipment to setup a soundstage, this can include flamethrowers, confetti launchers, smoke machines, foam machines, lighting and ancillaries. It is not uncommon for the organisers of illegal raves to rent this equipment on a short-term basis and the value of this equipment can go into the thousands of pounds. 


At a glance


The initial occupation of a premises for an illegal rave can often look similar to a new tenant or occupier moving in, with an increase in foot fall and some items being brought into the premises. Some organisers will place a Section 144 notice in a window or externally and look to claim, “squatters rights”, however this does not actually confer them any right to illegally occupy the building and is more used as a method to buy time so they can run their event and then leave. Event organisers may also look to put advertisements up in the local area, whilst this may appear to be a “low-tech” method, it can be very effective in leading people to the right location. 

Typically, groups that organise these events advertise their presence online, often releasing the location only hours before the event is due to begin. One thing that can be useful is to look at what activity is happening in the local area online, things such as posts on Instagram that are geo-tagged to a location can provide valuable insight into who the event organisers are. 

It may also be worthwhile to pre-empt any posts on local community groups by advising that there is a situation, and you are in the process of dealing with it. This is more as a reassurance to other local businesses or residents, but it can often help to let people know that you have a handle on the situation. 


What can businesses & landowners do at this stage?


It is important to understand that this is the stage at which immediate action must be taken to prevent an illegal rave from happening, once the organisers start to bring ravers into the building the number of resources required to remove them, and the scale of the task increases dramatically. If the organisers can be isolated within the premises, then the task of removal should become much easier because if they cannot host their event, they have no reason to remain and every moment they remain on site they increase the risk of the authorities attending & possible further action being taken. 


What other measures can be taken?


One of the priorities should be to inform the police/authorities of the situation, whilst this is not a guarantee of police attendance it is better for them to be in the loop in case support is required later. Other measures that can be taken include shutting access gates to trading estates (if applicable), documenting any noteworthy vehicles attending the site that may be part of the group, ensuring any staff know not to come to the premises and notifying neighbouring businesses that an incident is happening & being dealt with. 


What should not be done?


Do not attempt to solve the situation by yourselves, once you are aware that an incident has occurred you should immediately seek specialist enforcement support. It is not uncommon for these events to act as a venue for drug dealing and gang related activities, attempting to prevent entry to occupiers or people looking to attend the event can be extremely dangerous and should not be attempted without specialist training & adequate resources. In previous cases as many as 300-400 people have turned up in order to come to an illegal rave, situations such as these have resulted in requiring a large police presence to work alongside specialist enforcement teams. 

One additional measure than is often attempted is to offer money in exchange for event organisers/occupiers to vacate the premises, whilst this may seem like a good idea at the time it often leads to repeat incidents as word spreads that the people responsible for the property are willing to offer money to vacate. There is also never a guarantee that any occupiers will leave, and they may use this as a method for stalling. 


For further information regarding illegal raves, security measures that can be employed in combating them or for a digital copy of our illegal rave’s dossier, contact GRC Group at:


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