Plug pulled on mass water fight

Published: 27 July 2010

The threat of legal action against those taking part in a mass water fight in Battersea Park on Saturday proved decisive in preventing any disorder in the park over the weekend.

Visitors to the park enjoyed a normal peaceful weekend after the planned water fight did not occur.


There had been fears that thousands of people were going to take part and cause widespread disruption in the park on Saturday after the event was advertised on Facebook last month.


But after the council posted online messages warning those planning to take part that they were likely to be prosecuted under the park's byelaws, the weekend passed off without incident.


The council's no-nonsense warnings were issued as soon as the organiser's Facebook page went live with the invite to the water fight.


This zero-tolerance approach came just a few days after a similar mass water fight in Hyde Park led to widespread disruption and disorder in the park and in nearby Oxford Street. A number of people were arrested for public order offences and assault and one man was arrested for committing grievous bodily harm after events spiralled out of control.


Environment spokesman Cllr Sarah McDermott said she was pleased that the event had not taken place and that visitors to the park had enjoyed a normal, peaceful weekend.


She added: " There were very strong concerns that an event like this could have boiled over into widescale disruption and violence, which is why we took this tough approach.


" No-one wants to stop young people enjoying themselves, especially in the open spaces of a public park, but sadly what can start off as a seemingly harmless and innocuous bit of fun can quickly escalate into something much more nasty and vicious and we were not prepared to take that risk.


" As well as warning the organiser and all the others who had signed up to that Facebook page, we had our parks police officers and also officers from the Metropolitan Police on patrol in the park with others on standby if required and we also had other contingency measures in place if needed to disrupt and prevent this event from happening.


" I am relieved and delighted that all our preparatory work proved so successful."


People thinking of attending Saturday' s water fight were warned that they faced prosecution for breaching the park' s byelaws. Anyone convicted of a breach could be fined up to £ 200 in a magistrates court.


The park' s byelaws cover a wide range of activities and are designed to prevent nuisance in the park. There are a number of specific byelaws prohibiting fighting, brawling, using offensive language or causing annoyance to other park users.


The council will continue to monitor popular social networking sites for the rest of the summer to make sure that no similar event is arranged over the coming months. Anyone attempting to organise a water fight could render themselves liable for legal action.