Police gave choice of 'evacuation or arrest' claim Cramond party organisers

ORGANISERS of the Cramond Island party which ended with hundreds of revellers being helped to shore by the coastguard have hit out at the emergency response.

Lifeboat crews ferried dozens of revellers back to the mainland on Saturday after they became stranded on the island in the Firth of Forth when the tide came in.

It is thought the rescue operation, which saw more than 160 people helped off the island, cost around 18,400. But organisers today said they had received dozens of messages from people who said they had been forced to leave, rather than rescued.

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One of the organisers Dean Jennings, 28, said they had been well-prepared for the elements and had spent weeks organising the event.

He insisted organisers had taken every precaution, and said most of the people on the island had been told to leave by the coastguard – despite being prepared with tents, sleeping bags and other provisions.

"It wasn't done on a whim," he said. "We put out weather forecast warnings, tide warnings every second day for two weeks. We had spare tents, spare clothing, trained first-aiders.

"The police told coastguards to wake people up who were sleeping in tents and told them they were being rescued or facing arrest."

Mr Jennings did admit there had been around six calls from people on the island to the coastguard, after they were stranded by the tide and the weather became cold and rainy.

But he insisted these were foreign tourists unprepared for the event, and said the majority of people involved had been left baffled at being told to leave.

"It wasn't a rescue," he said. "The people that got rescued were tourists who'd heard the noise and strayed over unaware of the tide times.

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"They woke up about 85 to 90 per cent of the people who came back across on boats. They all had tents.

"Everyone's broke because of the credit crunch, and we just ran it for free, it was just to give people a chance to have a nice day out with a bit of music."

A spokesman for the Coastguard said they had been disappointed that no one had contacted them for information in advance of the event, but that when they arrived it was felt the safest decision would be to evacuate the island.

A spokesman said: "The tides on the Cramond causeway can be deadly and we were concerned that people may have tried to walk back.

"We were called out on three separate occasions through the night, and it was a major task getting people safely to shore.

"Several people had to be treated by medical staff for the effects of the cold, as they were not prepared, and we would urge people in future, if they are thinking of organising an event like this, to contact us."

A police spokesperson added: "In collaboration with our colleagues in other emergency services, a decision was taken to evacuate some people from Cramond Island as we have a duty to safeguard public welfare."