BBC News – Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 19:15 GMT
A Lincolnshire farmer has accused police of failing to stop illegal ravers from taking over his sheds on New Year’s Eve.
David Benton, of Moorby, said about 70 revellers smashed down his farm gate, drove a lorry-load of disco equipment onto this property and set fire to pallets.
He called Lincolnshire Police, who sent two officers, but said ravers could not be evicted because there were fewer than 100 trouble-makers involved.
Mr Benton, 44, said: “I will defend my property, and I will use violence if I have to if this happens again. The police have already said they will arrest me if I do.”
“Anybody must be able to defend their own property.”
“It was like being a farmer in Zimbabwe – the police stood outside the gate while inside people were smashing up my property and they were doing nothing about it.”
Lincolnshire Police said officers could only intervene to break up rave parties if certain criteria were met.
Inspector John Ginty stressed: “The law states that there must be more than 100 people in the open air, causing a public disruption – those conditions were not met in this case.
“These people are totally irresponsible and totally reckless and have no regard for other people’s property, but this was a practical, proportionate response to what was taking place.”
Chief Superintendent Kevin Morris, of the Police Superintendents’ Association, said: “You have to use your common sense and ask what could a group of officers realistically do?”
“You’d need 200 officers to deal with 100 revellers if they didn’t want to leave.”
Mr Benton said he was very concerned about the danger of nitrogen fertiliser stored on the farm catching fire.
His wife Sarah said: “I don’t agree with vigilantism and I don’t agree with what Tony Martin did at all.”
“But you can understand someone getting to that state,” she said.
A police spokesman warned: “While we have every sympathy with Mr Benton he will obviously be on a very sticky wicket if he does take any direct action in the future.”