Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Understanding Your Local Problem

The information provided above is only a generalized description of rave party problems. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.

Asking the Right Questions

The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular rave party problems, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.

You may answer some of these questions by referring to police or health authority statistics. However, talks with ravers, club owners and others associated with raves will also be necessary. Further, covert and overt surveillance of clubs and exterior areas is essential for getting a firsthand picture of how raves operate.

Rave-Related Incidents

  • How many medical emergencies are attributable to raves? (Emergency room and emergency medical service records, raver surveys and police records are sources for this information.)

    † DAWN surveys provide emergency room data for selected U.S. sites.

  • What are the particular medical conditions (e.g., dehydration, hyperthermia, hyponatraemia)?
  • Which drugs appear to cause or contribute to these conditions?
  • Do rave staff appropriately call emergency medical personnel for rave-related medical emergencies? (Some staff may be reluctant to call for fear that such emergencies will be used as evidence to support enforcement actions against rave promoters.)
  • Does noise from rave venues disturb people? If so, what, specifically, is the source of the noise (rave music, vehicles, patrons outside the venue)?
  • How many traffic crashes involve drivers traveling to and from raves? Are drivers under the influence when the crashes occur?
  • Are traffic congestion and parking a problem around rave venues?
  • Have any assaults (sexual or nonsexual) occurred at, or been connected to, raves? If so, what, precisely, has been the connection?
  • To what extent do problems such as thefts from cars, vandalism and graffiti occur in the area around rave venues during raves?

Rave-Related Drug Trafficking

  • How much drug trafficking occurs inside rave venues? In the area around the venues during or before the raves?
  • How organized and of what scale are the drug dealing operations?
  • Are any of the rave staff (disk jockeys, security personnel, promoters) involved in drug dealing? If so, what is their involvement?
  • Which rave-related drugs are most popular in your jurisdiction?

Rave Location and Management

  • Do raves occur in licensed or unlicensed venues? In what specific types of venues (clubs, warehouses, open fields, caves, hangars, etc.)?
  • Who owns and/or controls access to the property where raves occur? Is there a legally binding agreement between the property owner and rave operator governing property use? If so, what are its provisions regarding safety, security and liability?
  • What are the particular problems associated with licensed and unlicensed venues, respectively?
  • Where have raves occurred in the past in the jurisdiction?
  • Is alcohol served at raves?
  • Are minors admitted to raves? If so, what problems, if any, does this cause?
  • How many people typically attend a rave? Is crowding a problem in the venue or in the line waiting to enter the venue?
  • Where do ravers live in relation to the raves? Are most local, or have they traveled far to attend?
  • What is your jurisdiction's reputation among ravers? Do they see your jurisdiction as a desirable place to attend a rave? (Monitoring Internet chat rooms and interviewing ravers might provide some answers to these questions.)
  • How profitable are raves for rave operators and property owners? (Understanding the business aspects of raves can help you influence the actions of operators and owners.)
  • Are commodities essential to ravers' health, such as water, sold at exorbitant prices in venues?
  • Are ravers properly screened and/or searched for illegal drugs and weapons before they enter venues? Are all ravers properly screened, or are some allowed in unchecked?
  • Are ravers allowed to leave and reenter venues? If so, do they have to pay an additional admission charge?
  • Are tickets sold at remote sites before the rave, or only at the door on the day of the rave?

Current Responses

  • How do police learn of upcoming raves? By monitoring websites and flyers? By interviewing young people? How often are police unaware of raves until they take place?
  • Do any laws regulate raves? If so, do the regulations apply to the particular rave party problems in your jurisdiction?
  • Which agencies are responsible for enforcing the regulations? Do they enforce them adequately?
  • Are there multidisciplinary groups to plan and monitor raves?
  • What security staff, if any, work at raves? Do police provide security at raves? If there are private security staff, are they adequately screened and trained? Who screens and trains them? Is there an adequate ratio of staff to ravers?
  • Are the safety measures commonly recommended for running raves in place? (See response 1 for a list of common safety recommendations.)
  • What is the police department policy with respect to enforcing drug laws at raves? Is personal use of rave-related drugs tolerated, or are all applicable laws strictly enforced? How does the official department policy compare with actual enforcement practice?
  • Is anonymous drug testing conducted at raves? If so, do police endorse it?

Measuring Your Effectiveness

Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. All measures should be taken in both the target area and the surrounding area. (For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.)

The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to rave party problems:

  • number of rave-related medical emergencies;
  • severity of rave-related medical emergencies;
  • number of complaints about noise, traffic and other rave related nuisances;
  • number and severity of offenses such as thefts from cars, vandalism and graffiti that occur around rave venues during raves; and
  • number and severity of traffic crashes and amount of traffic congestion associated with raves.

The volume of rave-related drugs police seize is not a direct measure of your effectiveness, although it may provide you with some insights into drug trafficking and drug use in the jurisdiction. You should also be alert to any evidence that raves have been displaced to another jurisdiction as a result of your efforts, or conversely, that they have been displaced to your jurisdiction from another jurisdiction.