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Police are setting up a new operation to tackle what they call 'illegal raves' in Hampshire.
They say unlicensed music events have been on the increase across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in recent years, and these gatherings cause disruption to communities and damage to the environment and surrounding wildlife, while also placing lives at risk due to the drug-taking culture that often goes hand-in-hand with these illegal events.
Operation Enigma is Hampshire Constabulary's re-evaluation of the force's approach to dealing with unlicensed music events. This is to ensure that a consistent method is taken to preventing the gatherings in the first instance and to provide a swift and robust approach when notified of an illegal "rave" taking place within the two counties.
Preventative measures include reassurance visits to landowners to offer advice on securing their properties, increased patrols in areas that are considered vulnerable to raves, and pro-active information sharing via the force's Country Watch scheme and local Safer Neighbourhoods teams.
Superintendent James Fulton, the force lead for Op Enigma, said:
"Over the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of unlicensed music events across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and the need for the police to co-ordinate a long-term, preventative response to these gatherings.
"At the same time, we are looking to adopt a consistent approach across the two counties by providing a robust presence at the scene, seizing equipment where necessary and linking in with affected communities.
"Unlicensed music events are not harmless. They affect communities and have a negative impact on the environment and nearby wildlife. We also find that drug use is widespread and it may be only a matter of time before someone dies as a result."
Robin Edwards, regional director for the Country Land and Business Association, said:
"We urge farmers and landowners to help the police by reporting any suspicious activity via the 101 contact number as early intervention and good local intelligence can prevent these illegal events and organisers can be dealt with appropriately.
"Raves cause a great deal of disruption to local communities and often result in damage being caused to property and land. Hampshire Constabulary's proactive approach to reducing raves is very welcome as landowners can fall victim, bearing the considerable clean-up costs incurred."
It is estimated that Hampshire Constabulary attended 22 significant unlicensed music events in 2012. In 2013 to date, the force prevented or dispersed three unlicensed music events over the weekend of March 23th and 24th in the New Forest, Bramshill and on the border with Thames Valley Police.