Hertfordshire Heavies Play Party Poopers
(This article first appeared in the uk.music.rave newsgroup)
On Sunday January 14 2001, Hertfordshire police decided it would be a good idea to waste what must have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money - forcibly breaking up someone's birthday party.
This party was a private, unpublicised, invitation-only event, that attracted a gathering of about 100 to 150 friends, in a small, derelict barn located in a secluded countryside location near Bovingdon, on the Hertfordshire /Buckinghamshire border. This location has been well used for parties in the past - usually with minimal fuss.
A police patrol car turned up early in the morning, and the police looked around, chatted to partygoers, and were even happy to pose for group photographs with them. The mood of the party was a happy, peaceful one, and the night had passed without incident.
However, later on in the morning an additional police van turned up, and then another, and then another, and so on. By about midday, the place was swarming with what was estimated to be at least 200 police officers - comfortably outnumbering the number of partygoers remaining at the barn by a ratio of least two to one.
Along the road leading down a hill, away from the party, I counted 10 police riot vans, in addition to panda cars, land rovers and dog units. Heading In the other direction, several police land rovers had blocked the road. A police helicopter circled overhead.
The partygoers were outnumbered, and surrounded. There was no way out. Bits of scaffholding were used to barricade the entrances to the barn - but owing to the derelict, open nature of the barn, blocking entry would be an impossible task. It was encouraging that those partygoers that remained decided to stand their ground, forming a human shield around the speakers and decks, at least until all equipment could be safely uninstalled and packed away.
This did not prevent the police from trying to sabotage the petrol generators being used for electricity (a dangerous action that could have easily resulted in police officers and partygoers being burned or electrocuted). Attempts made to prevent this action were met with physical confrontation.
At about 12:30pm the police moved in on the surrounded barn, forcibly removed the partygoers from the onto the adjacent road. They were made to drive (despite protests from those who had been drinking, that they needed time to sober up) out via a controlled route - with detachments of police lining the road at various points, until, about 3/4 mile up the road, a large police roadblock was reached.
All leaving cars were stopped, questioned and checked, and the personal details of every person attending the party were taken. Several cars were then followed for a few miles.
At least one person was arrested, and there was a fair amount of police heavy handedness when removing the partygoers from the barn. Perhaps one of the reasons why free parties usually enjoy relative safety from over-zealous policing is that they have "security in numbers", whereby the crowd is too numerous for the police to have sufficient resources to "go in heavy".
To anyone wanting to put on private events for their mates, in the style of a free party, BEWARE! - There will be less of you there - So the police might well fancy their chances of having a go. Don't be surprised if they wheel out what looks like a small army, against you, and remember that merely attending a party can be regarded by them as sufficient cause for police harassment.
Report by Spar
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