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More than 50 arrested for string of offences after thousands attend illegal countryside rave

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More than 50 people were arrested after police shut down an illegal rave attended by thousands in the South Downs.

Police were called to the “large unlicensed music event” in fields near the town of Steyning in West Sussex during the early hours of Sunday.

As many as 2,000 people, most of whom had travelled from outside the area, were at the event, despite coronavirus rules banning gatherings of more than 30 people.

Eight people were identified as potential organisers of the rave and arrested, while sound equipment was seized, Sussex Police said.

People who organise large-scale gatherings that breach COVID guidelines can be fined up to £10,000.

Attendees were arrested for a number of offences, including drink and drug-driving, possession of drugs and theft.

Two police cars were involved in crashes as officers tried to close down the event.

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One was treated for a suspected broken arm after the police car he was in collided with a vehicle trying to leave the rave.

The 20-year-old driver, a man from Redditch, was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of drink and drugs and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Another driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, failing to stop or provide a breath test, after a second car crashed into a separate police vehicle.

Videos on social media showed huge numbers of people dancing to loud music and traffic backed up along country roads.

Sussex Police said they were met with “significant hostility” as they tried to contain the event.

Roads had to be closed and people were told to avoid the area until it was officially cleared at 7.15pm on Sunday.

DS Juliet Parker of Sussex Police said: “Due to the mindless actions of a large number of people, the majority of whom have travelled from out of county, the community of Steyning has experienced significant disruption.

“These individuals have demonstrated a complete disregard for the local community, the heritage of the area and the existing COVID-19 regulations.

“We will not tolerate behaviour like this within Sussex, as can be seen by the high volume of arrests made over the course of the event.”