With the heat of the summer, and in the rush to make up for lost time as lockdown eases, there are signs of significant increases in squatting activity and flash illegal raves springing up across the UK, according to the data reports from a leading security company.
Reports of illegal raves over the weekend, and the bank holiday before it, stretch from Leeds to London, Saltcoats in Scotland, to Somerset, in the South West, involving thousands of people with hundreds of police officers needed to control them, say the VPS Group, who handle calls to secure properties nationwide and across Europe.
“Summer is a traditional season for raves in any circumstances.” Says Nicholas Bye, Business Development Director for VPS. “But with the record temperatures in May, and the effects of being pent-up at home during lockdown, there’s been a sudden rush of rapidly organised raves. Add to that the financial pressure many tenants have experienced, and with lots of buildings left temporarily vacant, we are seeing what could be the start of a steep rise in both squatting and illegal raves.”
The company keeps a log of squatter reports and the most recent incidents include a former Indian restaurant in Lincolnshire, a closed day centre in Twickenham, and vacant commercial blocks in Manchester and East London.
Senior police were reported as preparing their forces for a rise in criminal activity. David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, said he feared “that we could have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of young people in the West Midlands — particularly young men — who, around about June or July, find they have got no job to go back to. Or at least they are going to be unemployed for a considerable period of time.”
Nicholas Bye adds that “Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding the implications for the security of vulnerable properties as a consequence of the lockdown. We expect to see a rise not just in raves and squatting, but also in metal and cable thefts, heritage crimes, and further break-ins to closed pubs, former care homes, empty churches and remote sites. Without adequate protection in place, it could be a security nightmare.”