If you somehow missed the 20-plus mile motorcycle ride that was meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hells Angels’ arrival in the United Kingdom, don’t feel bad: A lot of the Hells Angels missed it too.
An estimated 700 bikers were expected to participate in the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club Euro Run 2019, which started in the village of Pease Pottage and followed the A23 highway straight into Brighton. That “700 bikers” thing seemed to be a serious overestimate, because only about 100 Hells Angels (or Hells Hangers-on) took part in the ride. Meanwhile, 49 people associated with the motorcycle club were arrested—including 34 who were picked up for drugs or for possessing “offensive weapons”—and a number of hungover or still-drunk Angels failed Breathalyzer tests on the day of the event.
“We made great efforts to work with the event organizer beforehand to ensure those attending, particularly from abroad, had got the message about what was expected here under UK law. Sadly, some didn’t heed the warning and this resulted in arrests being made,” Assistant Chief Constable Nev Kemp of the Surrey Police said. “Our approach, as well as some self-testing for breath alcohol by riders ahead of the main ride-out on Saturday, significantly reduced numbers coming to Brighton.”
Twelve people—including five Germans, three Hungarians, and one Swiss, one French, one Czech, and one Greek man—have already been charged on assorted drugs and weapons offenses. And, on top of that, 27 other would-be riders weren’t even allowed to enter the United Kingdom because of their criminal records.
“All of those refused entry were international members of the Hell Angels and deemed to pose a risk to the wider public with previous convictions for serious crimes including murder, kidnap, torture, drug supply, violent assaults and firearms offenses,” Kemp said. “Hells Angels events of this nature have not routinely passed without serious incidents when they have taken place in other countries. A measure of success for us has been to ensure that it passed without serious incident here in the UK and our colleagues at Europol have been very complimentary about the UK policing operation.”
Both the Surrey Police and the Sussex Police were allowed to use Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 for several days leading up to the Euro Run. If a Section 60 order is in place, officers have authority to stop and search anyone “without reasonable grounds” within a designated area, if they believe that serious violence will take place or if there is reason to suspect that someone might be carrying a dangerous weapon. (“The fact that we have had seven people go through the courts and be sentenced so far, as well as the numerous arrests, has justified our actions and use of Section 60 this week,” Kemp said.)
The Argus reports that more than 3,000 Hells Angels members had congregated in parts of Surrey and Sussex for a three-day event that wrapped up with the Euro Run. Three thousand bikers, and only 100 or so made it onto the motorway? Yikes, guess that’s what the 100th anniversary is for.