A farmer spent 12 hours searching for a group of terrified Sussex cows and calves that had escaped their field after thousands of people descended on West Sussex for an illegal rave.
Sussex Police has arrested more than 50 people after officers disrupted the unlicensed event in Steyning, in the early hours of Sunday (27 June).
The force said at its height, up to 2,000 people were present, and it was one of the largest, unplanned operations it had experienced in recent years.
Livestock farmer Scott Stone, who rents the land from the Wiston Estate, thought it was closer to 4,000 people and he spent the whole day searching for his distressed cattle after arriving at the field at 8am on Sunday morning.
A police helicopter was instrumental in helping to find the 15 cows and 12 calves that Mr Stone believes either charged through a fence when they were spooked or escaped through fences that had been broken.
The farmer faces an anxious wait to see if the three cows still in-calf will give birth without any problems.
“They are back in their field and safe, but they were fairly shaken up so we are just going to wait and see,” Mr Stone told Farmers Weekly.
“Part of the immediate trauma was that the whole group had been pushed out into a wheat field, but had left a couple of calves in the valley with the ravers, so we had to get on the quad bikes to try to get them back. They were starting to get very distressed.”
In footage seen by Farmers Weekly, some of the cows and calves are filmed running among the revellers, with loud drum and bass music blaring in the background.
Mr Stone spent time on Sunday morning giving first aid to people, including a man who had sliced open the end of his finger after jumping over a barbed wire fence.
The farmer said it would not be safe to put his cows back in the field until all the mess had been cleared up, which included hundreds of metal laughing gas canisters.
How to spot and prevent illegal raves
Police say the possibility of unlicensed music events taking place on farms has increased since the coronavirus lockdown.
Landowners are reminded to keep gates secure and block entrances to fields to help prevent access to land.
They should also make sure barns and other outbuildings are secure.
Suspicious activity could include cars acting suspiciously, driving around slowly looking at fields, outbuildings and barns, and any potential marking of locations, such as paint marks on the road surface or ribbons on gates and in hedges.
If you suspect a rave is starting by the appearance of vehicles in a location or access being gained to your land, call 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Mr Stone said people were using the nearby woods as a toilet. “There is so much human excrement in the woods, it is unbelievable,” he said.
Neighbouring farmer James Wright helped Mr Stone lead his livestock to safety.
“I think what they forgot is that people live and work here and there is livestock, there is this real disconnect and they don’t quite realise the impact they’ve had,” Mr Wright said.
Absolute scenes up on the downs today. Terrified cattle with young calves, thousands of trespassers and hundreds of police. Hope those who attended are happy with themselves, a lot of mess and heart ache left in their wake pic.twitter.com/AJ6X5ZZn62
— James Wright (@JPBWFarm) June 27, 2021
A Sussex Police spokesman said more than 50 people have been arrested on suspicion of offences, including drink and drug-driving, possession of drugs and theft.
The force said officers were met with “significant hostility” when they tried to speak to people.
Sound systems and speakers were seized by officers and eight people identified as the organisers of the event have been arrested. There were two crashes involving police cars.
Detective superintendent Juliet Parker said: “Due to the mindless actions of a large number of people, the majority of whom have travelled from out of county, the community of Steyning has experienced significant disruption.
“These individuals have demonstrated a complete disregard for the local community, the heritage of the area and the existing Covid-19 regulations.”