Police dispersed an illegal event in Wigan last night after around 300 people gathered and dozens of arrivals were turned away at a farm at the edge of the district on the border with Glazebury.
Officers were notified of an unlicensed music event taking place at 8.45pm on Saturday 31 October by the owner of the farm who had returned to the 320-acre site to find a large number of people gathered there with music equipment and loud music playing.
A large co-ordinated response took place, led by GMP – supported by the Force’s dedicated operation for large-scale COVID breaches – with assistance from Cheshire Police, British Transport Police (BTP), the National Police Air Service (NPAS) and Network Rail.
Deployed resources stopped access to the several routes to the site, and a section 35 dispersal order was imposed either side of the county-border by both GMP and Cheshire Police until 6am this morning (Sunday 1 November).
Police dispersed the 300 people, with measures taken to ensure a safe and orderly exit from the site – including work alongside Network Rail and BTP to prevent disruption to the nearby railway line and to mitigate any possible dangers.
Despite police advice, many people made off on foot across the railway tracks while trains were still active in the area.
Two men were arrested; a 26-year-old on suspicion of not providing personal details for a FPN and a 36-year-old for possession of class A drugs.
Seven police vehicles were targeted and had their tyres slashed while officers searching the site found a machete in an area of bushes.
One woman was treated by emergency services for injuries not believed to have been caused in suspicious circumstances.
Police received no prior intelligence of the incident and an investigation has been launched into the organisation of the event, with initial enquiries ongoing.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “This event was unacceptable and a blatant disregard of, not only restrictions for COVID-19 and the safety of others, but also the safety of those present as we saw serious examples over the summer period of the dangers posed by attending such events.
“Thankfully our officers, alongside supporting resources from Cheshire, BTP, NPAS and Network Rail were able to put a swift end to the event and prevent further large numbers people attending, as well as ensuring a safe and orderly exit from the site despite the challenges posed by the surrounding terrain.
“This event was a clear and flagrant breach of the regulations in place to keep people safe and a comprehensive investigation has been launched to bring the organisers to justice.
“I would also like to reiterate our message from the summer to those thinking of attending these events and those willing to drop their children off at these illegal gatherings; while many may attend to have a good time, not everyone goes with the same intentions. As well as being illegal, these events are not safe and the fact a machete was recovered from the site of this event is a worrying but important reminder that this very much remains the case.
“Our dedicated plans to tackle events like these meant that this illegal gathering didn’t compromise our response to other ongoing incidents, but we must all work together and continue to abide by the government regulations to avoid unnecessary demands on all emergency services. Where there are blatant breaches there will be robust enforcement.”
Any information about this illegal event should be reported to police on 0161 856 3034 quoting incident number 3231 of 31/10/2020. Details can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.