CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Hundreds ignore Covid rules to stage a rave in shut-down police station

Camden Council have been criticised for allowing the building to stand empty

05 November, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Party-goers spilling into Downshire Hill

POLICE are investigating a rave which attracted almost 1,000 revellers to the empty Hampstead Police Station on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday.

Extra police were brought in to disperse the crowds after officers were alerted by residents to the party in Rosslyn Hill, just hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced plans for a second national coronavirus lockdown.

A closure order was issued shortly after at around 2am. Sound equipment was seized but no arrests have yet been made. Police vowed that there would be prosecutions with £10,000 fines now possible under Covid-19 legislation.

Inspector Dave Hodges said: “We got there relatively quickly and officers managed to get in the building, close the event down and secure the building.

“There is now 24-hour security on the building for at least the next seven days. It’s important to say that there was no damage done, no disorder and no injuries to police officers, but it just took a while to disperse because of the large numbers.

He added: “It was a bit chaotic on the night so we are still trying to establish, through reviewing the information from different units which attended and body-worn video, if we can identify the culprits responsible for organising it.”

The former Hampstead Police Station

There were reports that a private company tried to evict people squatting inside the building last week.

The police station was first closed down by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a wave of cuts during his time as the Mayor of London and has stood empty for more than six years.

It was bought by the Department for Education for £14million and set up for Abacus Belsize to open a free school. But Camden Council has refused planning permission and the future of the site has recently been the subject of an appeal.

A planning inspector’s decision on whether the school can move in will be made shortly.

In the meantime, pupils have been bussed from the area to a temporary site in King’s Cross. Belsize ward councillors Luisa Porritt and Tom Simon, who support the school’s attempts to move in, said that empty buildings were a “magnet for antisocial behaviour”.

Some of the ravers are believed to have walked from Primrose Hill where other unlicensed music events (UMEs) were being held in the park before police asked groups to leave.

The Met said its public order team dealt with 11 UMEs and illegal gatherings across London over Halloween night. Police Commander Ade Adelekan warned that people breaking coronavirus rules would face maximum sanctions if caught.

Officers in Camden say they have prepared for Bonfire Night today (Thursday) despite displays being cancelled in line with the new lockdown rules.

Primrose Hill attracts thousands each year due to its views across the city.

“We’re planning for the usual fireworks night because this year is a bit of an unknown,” said Insp Hodges. “While our estimate of how many people could be out is way down due to organised displays being cancelled there’ll be the same number of officers on patrol.”

He added: “The message needs to be clear. We’re still in a global pandemic, and going into lockdown for a reason. People gathering and causing anti-social behaviour is bad enough but they now also risk passing on a deadly virus to others, with my officers being tasked with going among them to police the situation.

“We’d rather these events not happen at all.”

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