POLICE have defended their action in breaking up an illegal rave in a warehouse on the grounds of public safety.

Two teenagers were arrested and put on bail as enquiries continue into the gathering of about 30 youths in the early hours of Saturday, January 3, at the warehouse on the south industrial estate off Black Bourton Road, Carterton.

Some of those involved have told the Witney Gazette that the police action, eventually involving up to eight officers, was “heavy handed”.

But last week, the man in charge of the operation, Sgt Phil Hampton, said: “Our real concerns were for the health and safety of people inside the building, as well as the damage that was being caused.

“They can ham it up as much as they like about it being a rave, but it was technically a burglary with damage.”

A fork-lift truck was being driven around the building, and ended up damaging an interior pillar. Items stored in the warehouse had also been disturbed and damaged, added Sgt Hampton.

Police received a tip-off from a member of the public, and went to the scene at about 1.15am.

But, as the incident spilled out into the surrounding streets, more officers were called, including a transit van and dog unit, to restore public order. The youths eventually dispersed at about 6am.

“One lad had cut himself by breaking one of the building’s windows, and an ambulance was called to take him to hospital,” said Sgt Hampton.

“Though it is an industrial estate, there are residents living nearby, and the incident had to be dealt with.”

As reported, two youths were arrested, one an 18-year-old for possession of cannabis and theft of a fork-lift truck, and a 19-year-old for burglary.

Neither have yet been charged.

Police enquiries are continuing with further youths being questioned.