By Richard Savill
Police close down Facebook barbecue for 15 people
When Andrew Poole organised his 30th birthday party and posted invitations on the social networking site Facebook, he was expecting only 17 guests including family members.
He was therefore a little surprised when eight police officers, some dressed in body armour, arrived with a riot van and helicopter support.
Mr Poole, a coach driver, claimed he was doing little more than lighting a barbecue for a few of his friends to celebrate, however, police feared it was to turn into a large-scale rave prompted by the internet invitations.
Mr Poole had organised the party in a field in Sowton, Devon, which was owned by a friend.
He said: “It had started to rain so we had gone in under the gazebo and all of a sudden there was this noise in the sky. I honestly could not believe it.
“The thing (the helicopter) hovered over us for about 25 minutes, watching 15 people eat. They told us to take down the sound system and said everybody has got to leave. It was 4pm and we had not plugged in the music.
“What effectively police did was to stop 15 people eating burgers.”
Mr Poole said he spent £800 for the hire of the generator, marquee and food.
He added: “The police had full-on camouflage trousers and body armour. It was ridiculous. I told them it was my 30th birthday, that this was a once in a lifetime event, and they should not ruin it. But they kept on insisting I had advertised it as an all-night rave on the internet.
“I had created an event, and 17 people were confirmed as guests. I did put the time on it as overnight in case people wanted to sleep over.”
The action by Devon police follows previous concerns about rave parties in other areas being advertised on internet sites.
Devon and Cornwall police said the decision to shut down any rave party “was not taken lightly.”
“When these gatherings are held outside the law they may become dangerous to those attending as fire regulations may be breached and access to such a site for emergency vehicles is limited.
“Loud music playing in the small hours is annoying to people living nearby who will turn to the police to stop this disturbance.
“On this occasion, we were extremely concerned how the event had been advertised on the internet as an all night party and it was therefore necessary to take the appropriate steps to stop the event.
“Had it gone ahead it is likely that far more of our resources would have been used to police the event and there would have been considerable disruption to neighbouring properties.”