We will get you, Croydon's borough commander Dave Musker tells rave promoters
Croydon's top police officer has defended the force's handling of a tip-off about the rave in east Croydon that led the death of a 15-year-old boy and pledged to see its organisers "locked up".
Chief Supt Dave Musker, borough commander, said the "criminal organisation" that held the illegal party in Royal Mail's former sorting office bore responsibility for the ensuing violence and the death of Rio Andrew, who collapsed at the event early on Sunday morning.
The Metropolitan Police faced questions, included from the schoolboy's grieving family, after it emerged it had received warning of the rave two weeks earlier but took no action.
Chief Supt Musker admitted the "quite junior" officer who received the information may have made "one small error of judgement", but described blaming police as "a red herring".
He said: "There was one piece of uncorroborated intelligence suggesting there may be a rave at that venue. Clearly the way we dealt with that intelligence needs to be looked into.
"However, the tactics of the organisers were that they use social media to advertise the actual venue within half an hour of the start of the rave, so the police obviously were confronted with large numbers of people attending a venue in Croydon at very short notice.
"The focus has been on one small error of judgement, potentially, by quite a junior officer.
"But the reason this happened is because organisers decided that they were going to trouser a wedge of cash by putting young people into a derelict building where one of the attractions was that there were drugs on-site.
"My officers had to deal with that, but the culprits are the ones responsible are the people who organised it to make money."
Thousands of people swarmed into east Croydon
He added: "The people who organise these events do so because they want to make a large amount of cash out of vulnerable people. They don't give a stuff.
"They're gone, they've trousered the £30,000 to £40,000 in cash - even though we took a substantial amount of money off them - and they've buggered off.
"The people who bear ultimate responsibility for what happened are the criminal organisation that organised that venue and did so in full knowledge of the risks they were running.
"I'm absolutely furious because they have got away with it and we will bloody well pursue them because they are criminals."
The Met has launched an internal inquiry into the handling its decision-making ahead of the rave, which saw 2,000 people swarm onto Cherry Orchard Road.
But Chief Supt Musker said police could not have predicted the chaos that broke out, in which people lobbed fire extinguishers and masonry at officers in riot gear, and said the event would not necessarily change the approach taken in the future.
Police officers in Cherry Orchard Road the morning after the rave
He said: "One piece of uncorroborated intelligence doesn't mean that I can mobilise 500 officers on the basis of it.
"It is exactly the same argument that we had during the riots. Everybody judges the outcome and says, 'well, you should have known.' But unfortunately my crystal ball gets quite dim at times.
"[If similar intelligence came in again] we'd look at the provenance and we'd look to try to develop it. But we must judge each piece of intelligence on what we've got.
"Would I chance the policing response on one piece of unprovenenced intelligence of a single strand in the future? I'd look for it to be corroborated, but if it couldn't be corroborated, I wouldn't change our policing response."
Police have arrested 16 people at or since the rave and on Wednesday released the images of nine people wanted on suspicion of violent disorder.
Officers also seized sound and lighting equipment and are investigating the now-deleted Facebook page for the Rum and Bass night as they look to trace the promoters.
Chief Supt Musker said: "We have got money laundering, perhaps, certainly evasion of liabilities, certainly things under the public order act, conspiracy to violent disorder. We'll think about the most serious charge we can pursue and we'll do that."
"The reason why [the rave] is illegal is because they evade all the laws and restrictions to keep people safe to make money. They are not altruistic. They trouser the £10, they don't pay tax on it, and they walk away when people have been hurt. I will pursue them.
"My officers are working on it now and we will pursue them for the most serious charges we can get. If they come to Croydon again, I would like to see them locked up."
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