Arrest made after thousands attend rave at former airfield near Bath

One person has been arrested and several vehicles have been seized after an illegal rave that took place in Bath on Saturday 18 July.

An investigation has been launched to identify and take appropriate action against those responsible for this event.

Residents have criticised Avon and Somerset Police for not reacting quickly enough to the huge rave on the outskirts of the city.

Loud music reportedly started late in the evening, and could still be heard at 9.30am on Sunday morning.

Homes as far as Keynsham in Bristol - around ten miles away from the site - were disturbed by the loud music coming from the professional-grade sound system.

Locals using social media platform Snapchat, who were not in attendance, could see a large group of people were still dancing at a field in the village of St Catherine after 8am.

Avon and Somerset Police Control Room acknowledged the event in the early hours of the morning, confirming officers were on the scene.

One witness said he could hear the music clearly from his home in Saltford, and dashcam footage he captured shows hundreds of cars parked along the side of the A46 in Upper Swainswick.

Cars were abandoned along the A46 near Upper Swainswick. Credit: Wayne May

In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police say five vehicles, a generator and other equipment.

The statement goes onto to say says it responded to the first call at 11.21pm within ten minutes - by which point 1000 thousand people were already on location at the former Charmy Down Airfield.

Officers called for support and closed off roads leading to the site, however people were abandoning cars along the roadside and heading to the location on foot.

Police estimate more than 3,000 people were at the rave. Credit: Snapchat

The force estimates more than 3,000 were in attendance at the peak of the rave, and after a risk assessment it decided containing the event was safer than breaking it up in wet and dark conditions.

Police say they were still turning vehicles away at 6.40am.

Chief Superintendent Ian Wylie explains why the force responded the way it did

  • Full statement from Avon and Somerset Police:

Police have seized five vehicles, a generator and other equipment on dispersing a rave near Bath.

Officers had the first report of the potential unlicensed music event at 11.21pm on Saturday 18 July. They attended within 10 minutes, quickly established there were 1000 people at the location – the former Charmy Down airfield, Upper Swainswick –  and called for further resources.

We had dedicated patrols on duty last night to respond to any reported unlicensed music events across the force area. These units – working closely with neighbourhood officers and landowners – had already prevented a rave from taking place in the Frome area last night. They were immediately redeployed to this incident.

Officers closed off the approach routes, however people were abandoning vehicles and making their way to the site on foot. We were still turning vehicles away after dawn on Sunday 19 July.

The risks to public safety of closing an event attended by more than 3000 people in dark and wet conditions were too great, with police resources already dealing with other significant incidents across the force area including 120 calls to 999 requiring an immediate response.Chief Superintendent Ian Wylie 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.”

C/Supt Wylie added that the impact of the rave was felt by other emergency services, with around eight 999 calls to the ambulance service linked to the event.

The music was turned off by 1pm on Sunday 18 July. The majority of the site was cleared by 4pm but officers then had to deal with a group trying to continue the event in an adjoining field.

One person was arrested for failing to comply with a notice to quit the land. An investigation is underway to identify and take appropriate action against those responsible for this event.

Officers ask anyone with evidence which could help to get in touch, quoting reference 1414 of 18 July.Police need to know if you suspect an event is being set up so we can intervene early on to prevent it. Look out for the signs:

• promotion on social media• vans unloading sound equipment• more and more people gathering

Officers especially urge farmers and landowners (urban or rural) to review their security measures – you can contact your neighbourhood team for advice on 101.

Smashed-up car being towed from the rave site near Bath. Credit: ITV West Country

The clean-up was still taking place on Monday morning, 20 July. At least one car had to be towed away from near the site on Charmy Down.