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Trashing the Park, what was it with T in the Parkers this year?

T in the Park 2010 was set to be THE event of the summer but with a death on site, two attempted murders, a sexual assault, tent thefts and several incidents overshadowing the festival is it time to ask just what is going on here?

We have been making the huge 8 to 10 hour trek to T in the Park for the past three years. Since our first visit it's been on the Safeconcerts list of festivals not to be missed and is one of our most highly recommended events. It’s a major commitment and not one we take lightly,  T in the Park unfailingly delivers so we believe it's worth the effort to go to Scotland for three full on days of top quality festival fun.

This year the musical line up was brilliant; T organisers really pulled it out of the bag with an exclusive Eminem performance, Jay-Z, Kasabian and Muse among a host of top quality acts providing wall to wall entertainment throughout the weekend. We don't want you to get the wrong idea here - the musical treats were first class with every performance we saw right up there.

Around the site fans were treated to 'Healthy T', 'Refresh area', an 'Eco Village on-site' and much more besides. In addition organisers have taken on board the issue with people urinating (and worse!) wherever they stand and this year provided urinals in the gold circle area as well as against the fences. They'd even introduced a 'Citizen T manifesto ' scheme so theoretically everything was in place to make 2010 the best T in the Park ever. Why then didn't we didn't experience the best T in the Park ever? When you find T in the Parkers who were having a better time at the local bars outside the site it's time to say "T - we have a problem".

eight tents in the security-only camping area were broken into during the Friday night

T in the Park 2010 felt largely joyless, turning minor irritations into major issues and this feeling of joylessness seemed to follow you wherever you went. Yes, there were pockets of people having the time of their life to be found, but this wasn't the overall feeling or the obvious festival vibe, T in the Park 2010 felt different and it's really hard to work out why a top class festival with a first rate line up felt so flat.

The weather didn't help matters, but the weather was not the main issue, hey - I've done Glastonbury in the rain and mud - T in the Park was just a drizzle in comparison. I've still managed to have the best time at Glastonbury whatever the weather decides to throw out.

There was a different attitude and a harder edge among the festival crowd this time round, one which we haven't experienced in a long time. People were edgy and irritable, the pushing and shoving got serious with none of the usual 'sorry mate' when they nearly push you off your feet - it felt like people just didn't care about anyone other than themselves or the immediate group they were in. Yep - we met a few nice folk and had a few great chats - frequently with people who told us that T in the Park just wasn't the same this time round.

The old issue of it being one big piss up was very much in evidence, people not only came for a piss up, piss seemed to be the order of the weekend; people got pissed (they got very pissed) people then pissed where they stood, around the edges of the arenas, in fact just about everywhere you went people were pissing, seemingly proud of it. I saw more 'bits I'd rather not see' on show during the weekend than I would want to see again - ever.

Not content with pissing anywhere and everywhere people then were happy to lie in both their own and other people's piss, they were happy to lie with their faces in it and they were happy to sit and eat on it. Seemingly discontent with only being able to do this they then enjoyed hurling cups of piss into the crowd at any given opportunity, Piss in the Park doesn't quite capture what went on at this year's event, in fact the evidence of human excrement in the site says all that needs to be said, this wasn't just a small minority of festival goers, this was a majority of festival goers - or festival pissers as they may be better labeled and identified.

Festival organisers had taken some steps to deal with this by installing urinals on the edge of the gold circle and piss troughs around the fences - they might have been better advised to hire a porta loo firm that actually emptied the toilets and made them nicer to use during the festival. I don't know about you but full up toilets from Friday night in the arena suggest that the firm were not too hot on maintenance. Did this contribute to the problem? I don't know, T is renowned for being Piss in the Park so it's anybody's guess, is being so disinhibited a good thing? You tell me. Personally I find it vomit inducing. Perhaps if security put a bit of time into discouraging people from pissing all over the place as opposed to the efforts they go to chop and change their minds about which way you can walk through their walkways and treating the paying public like cattle they might have been able to do something about it???

The line up was pretty full on so naturally the big acts attracted some very big crowds. The arena was heaving most of the time and you couldn't get near the front. Security had no way of counting people in and out of the gold circle area so the net result was an accident waiting to happen which was particularly noticeable during the Stereophonics set where people were also there waiting for Eminem. The amount of people allowed into that area was unacceptable on any level at a major event and quite how the set was completed without a serious incident can only have been down to sheer luck.

So, it seemed that security had learned from this 'accident waiting to happen' and in typical security style took action before Eminem's set. To say they went from the sublime to the ridiculous is to massively underestimate what security did next. Walking out into the arena one's eyes nearly popped out on stalks, here we were at Scotland's premier festival and it resembled a police state. There they were, the hapless boys and girls arms linked creating a cordon in the most extreme ill thought out fashion imaginable - but that's security for you - subtle they 'aint. These security measures were put in place around the gold circle only which left a heaving and unsteady main stage crowd packed tighter than sardines. When spoken to about the madness of it all even hapless security had to admit that there was nothing they could do about the main arena, but that the police were patrolling the edges so all would be fine. Luckily all was fine as so often is the case but once again it was down to luck not judgment.

We have no idea yet what the medical stats are going to look like when they are released, but what we did see was medical staff very busy most of the time. Thankfully there appeared to be plenty of medical staff on duty and they were needed. Not for many years have I seen so many people dragged out of the crowd and stretchered away injured. I don't suppose for one minute that we will get full and frank reports of exactly what went on and why there were so many injuries but we should all be grateful that there were so many skilled and competent staff on site this weekend, they were needed and all of us who were at T in the Park this year owe them a huge thank you. They worked tirelessly to keep people safe, or as safe as they could given the circumstances, it’s not over egging it to say that they were heroes.

This was a rough T in the Park crowd this year and many fights were reported on site, to cap it all there was a massive rush for David Guetta's set on the Sunday night and festival goers were seen pushing through the barrier to get to King Tut's which, as a result, was severely overcrowded.

We heard that there were a lot of tent thefts during the weekend, people had their tents slashed and things taken, what does it say when we were told that eight tents in the security camping area were broken into during the Friday night?

With so many things going wrong you'd like to think that it just couldn't get any worse, but you would be wrong. Tragedy dogged T in the Park with a death on the first night. 24-year-old David Ray Catto collapsed whilst making his way from the main arena back to the campsite, he was given immediate CPR by two nearby police officers who were quickly assisted by the on-site ambulance team. Sadly, David was pronounced dead at the scene. It is not yet known how this young man died but it is not thought to be suspicious and it is thought that it was the result of an asthma attack.

Whilst the above case is a tragedy and our hearts go out to the family and friends, reports, if they are correct suggest it was an asthma attack so probably this tragic death wasn't avoidable.

What is very worrying indeed and should concern us all is the fact that there was at least two sexual assaults. Late on Saturday night a 20-year-old woman attending the Balado festival was sexually assaulted near the bus parking area. Some reports are suggesting that there were as many as four sexual assaults, we don't know if this is accurate but STV have reported that an 18-year-old woman was abducted and raped at T in the Park, Police said the teenager was lured into a van at T in the Park by two men. They then drove her to another area before one attacked her while the other banged on the side of the van to cover her screams. The girl, who had arrived at the festival on Friday with friends, was later dumped at an area near the festival venue on Sunday night.

A 19-year-old man is in a critical condition at Ninewells Hospital after accidentally falling from a flagpole in the main arena on Saturday night.

Shortly after the festival ended on Sunday night, two young men were stabbed in an incident which Tayside Police are treating as attempted murder. The incidents happened before midnight on Sunday when two 20-year-old men were found with serious abdominal injuries at the event's campsite. Three people in their 20s have been arrested in connection with these two attempted murders.

Despite all these incidents the event is being hailed as a huge success with festival goers being praised for their behaviour:

 "T in the Park 2010 has proved to be a very busy event for all of us, but a successful one thanks to the excellent behaviour and the good community spirits demonstrated by the vast majority of those who have attended the event. The atmosphere once again has been superb.

I would also thanks the 450 police officers and the many security staff and stewards for the excellent way in which they have worked together over the course of the weekend, as well as the organisers themselves and the many other agencies who have delivered a successful of T in the Park.

I am very encouraged by the drop in crime levels that we have experienced this year as well as the high detection rates. However, this should in no way distract us from a number of serious incidents that have occurred at the venue, some of which are still subject to investigation by our officers.

Our enquiries into a serious incident in which two men were seriously injured are ongoing and I would appeal for witnesses to come forward and assist us. Investigations in to allegations of sexual assault are also continuing. A young man is also in intensive care at Ninewells Hospital having suffered head injuries after falling from a flag police on Saturday night and there was the tragic sudden death of 24-year-old Stonehaven man David Catto on Friday night. Our thoughts are with their families at this time.”

Event Commander, Chief Superintendent Craig Suttie

Tayside Police made a total of 64 arrests at the event, compared to 2009’s final total of 59 and the 69 arrests that were made in 2008. To date there have been 229 crimes recorded at the event during the weekend, compared to 358 in 2009 (a 36% reduction) and 432 in 2008. The detection rate for these incidents is currently at 63%. The majority of offences relate to theft, drugs misuse and minor assault.

I wonder if these people went to the same T in the Park that we did?

It wouldn't be fair to say the event was a total disaster but equally it wouldn't be fair to say it was a huge success with its usual great atmosphere, it simply wasn't. There was a wealth of great entertainment on offer but the behaviour of a significant minority of T in the Park festival goers seemed hell bent on ruining and destroying Scotland's premier event, most with just plain old selfish 'I'm all right Jack, sod the rest of you' behaviour. But with the number of serious incidents that happened some were clearly there to ruin the event - period.

T in the Park organisers had put tremendous effort into T in the Park as they always do, there was a magnificent line up and a lot of thought had gone into other aspects of the festival. Musically and performance wise it was brilliant, around the site there was plenty on to keep everyone out of trouble - so why didn't it hit the mark and why was there so much aggression?

The blame for this one probably is probably due to a combination of factors, most of all it's the festival crowd themselves who have to take responsibility for marring what in essence is a wonderful event. This year that event was spoiled by self-centered behaviour that wasn't very rock 'n roll at all - violence, aggression, sexual assault, filth and injury just isn't my definition of rock 'n roll and it's not edgy - rock 'n roll is much more intelligent than that.

We think that the T in the Park crowd are better than that - so what happened? It’s a question we just can't answer but I think it's fair to say "T - we have a problem"

Full review of all the positives and plenty of image galleries still to come...

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14th July 2010
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