‘Illegal raves’ is the common term for unlicensed music events, where members of the public attend an event that does not have the required permission to carry out certain licensable activities (typically live or recorded music) under a premises licence or a temporary event notice.
Although there are conditions under which the playing of recorded music and performance of live music are deregulated, illegal raves would not normally qualify for deregulation due to occupancy figures and operating hours.
As several commentators have noted, unlicensed music events are potentially risky propositions. Although organisers and customers might bemoan the restrictions and bureaucracy inherent in the licensing regime, one only needs to look at the kind of things that can occur at unlicensed events to understand why the regulations exist.
As any operator of a licensed premises will know, before you can start trading legally, you need to satisfy the four licensing objectives. Doing so requires businesses to think beyond the realms of what most people might expect a pub, restaurant or nightclub to deal with in their day-to-day business. Some may not realise it is now common for nightclubs to have rooms and staff dedicated to medical care, nor would many appreciate the resources that operators put into employing security staff and installing CCTV to assist crime prevention.
Operators are also expected to put extensive effort into sound limiters and working with neighbours to prevent public nuisance. Measures to prevent illegal drug use and dealing are another.
All of the above are matters that unlicensed operators may not concern themselves with. Therefore, these events may pose a risk to the public.
There are clearly socio-economic forces at work that may warrant consideration by policy makers. For example, the recent London at Night report commissioned by the Mayor of London highlights the fact that young people in the capital consider its nightlife too expensive, while the number of unlicensed music events in London has reportedly nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017. There is a correlation here and, when you factor in the costs of attending a London nightclub and buying drinks, compared to the relatively low cost of attending an unlicensed rave, it shows why this market is so attractive.
There are ways of hosting legal music events in temporary locations without the need to apply for a full premises licence and without incurring extortionate costs. If organisers are prepared to engage with regulators, they may be able to host similar events without flying under the radar.