POLICE arrested four men and seized DJ equipment after being called to woodland near Rainford following reports of an illegal rave.

Officers identified the site of a huge dance party involving groups of young people on private land between Rainford, the M58 and Kirkby.

Police say they turned away around 200 people in vehicles and on foot who were trying to get to the land overnight.

The illegal rave, a flagrant breach of lockdown rules, left a man with a suspected broken leg and a woman with a suspected broken ankle.

A woman also suffered burns to her legs.

The event was held just hours after warnings the coronavirus R rate for the North West had crept above 1, which has led to fears there could be a fresh spike in regional cases of the virus if people don’t stick to social distancing.

A large number of young people had been seen attempting to gain entrance to the woodland from around 8pm.

Merseyside Police said they stationed officers at key routes into the woodland, including roads and rural land.

The East Lancs Road was also closed at its junctions with Catchdale Moss Lane, Eccleston and Coopers Lane to stop more people trying to get to the site by car.

A dispersal order was also introduced covering the area of woodland.

At about 5.30am on Saturday, when the majority of people had cleared the site, four men were allegedly seen packing up DJ equipment.

The four were arrested on suspicion of Section 5 public order offences, causing a public nuisance and were provided with dispersal order notices.

They have been taken into custody and DJ equipment, lighting and lasers seized.

In a statement police said a further 15 dispersal notices were served, 12 people were dealt with for alleged drugs offences, 10 dispersal zone notices issued, and ”15 COVID-19” tickets issued.

A significant amount of rubbish, alcohol containers and evidence of drug misuse was discovered.

Chief Superintendent Ngaire Waine said: “All those attending have put themselves and others in the community at significant risk.

”Not only have they risked catching and spreading the coronavirus, but due to the numbers of people consuming of drugs and alcohol in dark woods, somebody could have quite easily got seriously hurt or worse.

“Indeed it was reported one male sustained a broken leg, one female a broken ankle and another female suffered burns to her legs.

“Government guidance still states that we must continue social distancing, that we must only meet in groups of six at most, and act sensibly.

“Clearly, those attending this rave took no heed whatsoever of that.

“They also left behind a huge amount of rubbish which will now have to be removed.

“It is clear that the organisers and those attending care very little for public health, the community surrounding them or indeed their own safety.

“It is particularly disappointing that some of those attending purported to be protesting against the lockdown in order to make a vain attempt to legitimise their attendance at the rave."

Chief Supt Waine added: “Having to deal with these sorts of unnecessary incidents puts an extra strain on both police and our partners, at a time when all key workers face a huge challenge to join the national effort to beat this pandemic while continuing to protect the public.

“A dispersal zone remains in place at the site today and our local officers will conduct high visibility patrols of the area to prevent gatherings like this happening again.

"Finally, I want to appeal directly to everyone who attended this rave, to pause and think about their actions.

“Please continue to follow guidance in place to protect yourselves and others. If you are a parent or guardian, please ask where your child is going and who they’re meeting up with.

“If we all pull together, we will be able to return to normality a lot sooner

"Anyone with information on who organised this event, who attended, any future planned similar events or information connected with the two assaults is asked to get in touch or contact @CrimestoppersUK completely anonymously.”