Pay Parties 1989

1989, 11 November: Police were called to Salfords and established that a pay party was in the process of being established. Eleven people were arrested and a large quantity of equipment seized.291

1989: Pay Parties: In additional to the growing demands of the foxhunts, pay parties burst on the scene. At weekends, promoters would come into the country with enormous sound systems, find some land, and establish a site for a party. The location would be broadcast on illegal radio stations, and on mobile phones. People would go to rendezvous points from where they would be directed to the party certainly in their hundreds if not thousands.

Again an intelligence unit was established, this time in Kent, and there was some success in gaining advance information that allowed the party to be disrupted before all the punters arrived. The parties caused a considerable annoyance to locals because of the volume of noise from the huge sound systems that could go on for twenty four hours or even longer. There was the illegal selling of alcohol and food, and of course drugs.

Many of the parties were no more than a cover for the dealers to move large quantities of drugs, sold to the partygoers. Some youngsters died taking the so-called recreational drug Ecstasy making this a serious business.

looking down on a pay party at Reigate

A pay party at Reigate

At weekends police would use the helicopter to check likely sites across the county for the setting up of parties. They could be spotted easily from the air because there were unusually a number of vans and Lorries in fields.

All sorts of tactics were developed to stop the parties, including the most successful but potentially hazardous, seizing the sound equipment. You only had until the party started to take any counter action. Once it was established there were too many people on site for the police to intervene without causing a major riot.

The operations became known as the explorer series, as they were called Scott, Amundsen, etc. Operation Shackleton was to disrupt a major party that intelligence said was to be held at Newdigate. A significant number of officers were deployed with the command and logistics/feeding point established in Capel village hall. Many of the officers were employed at checkpoints where all vehicles were stopped and the occupants spoken to and any partygoers turned away.

It has to be considered that there could be many thousands of people turning up, each paying to get on the site. Given the added costs of the booze and drugs etc, the profits for the organiser were considerable. There was therefore on the side of the organisers, considerable guile used to defeat the police. Some police won, many we lost.

One pay party set up late on a Saturday evening in Reigate deteriorated into a riot when police intervened too late. The bouncers guarding the gate, one of which was a boxing champion, attacked the police when they responded to complaints from the public. The "partygoers" or the bouncers tried to turn over one of the police support unit buses and smashed up the chief inspector's car when he arrived.

The situation was bad and more staff would be needed for at least the next twelve to sixteen hours, and there inevitably would be arrests. Assistant Chief Constable Chris Atkins attended Reigate Police Station along with senior Operations officers. It was a long night. Things calmed down mainly as the police withdrew and the party went on all night and on well into the Sunday morning making a great deal of noise.

A number of fresh officers under the command of Chief Inspector Graham Hardy were brought on for the morning and they checked all those leaving the site, making a number of arrests associated with the attacks on the police during the night. Some were charged and convicted for the incident and sent to prison.

James Bulman: I was living in Sidlow Police house and spotted the unusual activity on my way into Reigate Police station for the night shift in the Dedicated Station Unit. I raised my concerns and shortly afterwards it all kicked off. Inspector Hoyle drove his own new car to the scene, it was attacked, and from what I remember it was written off afterwards.

Dick Crockford: I got called out by Paddy Crossan. He later wanted me as an Exhibits Officer and I rolled my eyes at the thought at a briefing. Yes, he noticed. I was on an 'Action Team' in the end for a while and remember Detective Sergeant Bob Scott being on the job for ages. I remember taking statements from two brand new probationers who attended the scene, Chen Woodward and the other PC 'Raj' Rajkumar. They tried to drag him through a hedge.

Graham Hardy: I recall I was woken about four in the morning to get over to the Foward Control Point for 6 am to relieve Chris Kay who had been there overnight. I was a chief inspector then. It finally closed down at 3 pm I seem to remember. I know that I went on the site with one of the sergeants or inspectors on our own very early on to recce the situation (one of the PSU tactical advisers I'm sure but sadly can't recall his name at the moment) more than two of us would have provoked a pitch battle but somehow those running things did not seem to mind just the two of us.

I remember that the speaker units were huge and that there was a guy immediately in front of them when we first went on the site and he was still there near the end. When I passed in front of them it made my stomach vibrate, especially with the bass notes, to the point that it was most uncomfortable, what it did to the guy that spent all day there heaven knows!?

I also remember that there were areas strewn with empty 'deal bags' and so it was quite obvious that such events we no 'innocent' party but rather organised money spinners for the drug dealers.

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291 Annual Report 1989.


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