About 3,000 people gathered in Sussex for an illegal rave.

The event was held in Houghton Forest, near Arundel, over the weekend.

It kicked off at about 9pm on Saturday and was still going as The Argus went to press yesterday.

The rave was arranged without the permission of any local authorities or the landowner, the Forestry Commission.

Yesterday the Forestry Commission criticised the ravers, explaining that taxpayers would foot the bill for the post-event clean-up.

Police said they believed it was arranged via social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and through text messages.

There are also a number of internet forums dedicated to “party vibes” where people mention events but do not provide exact details or locations for them.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “The rave was first reported to us at 12.30am on Sunday and there are still reports coming in.

“It is in Houghton Forest, near Arundel, and it is estimated that 3,000 people attended.”

He added: “Police can do nothing.

“It is on private land and you can only stop it if you get there when they are setting up by seizing the sound system.

“Fifty police is not enough to cover it and we didn’t have any prior warning that it was going on.

“The organisers can be prosecuted afterwards but it is difficult during the rave.”

It is believed the rave organisers accessed the site by cutting the gates to the forest.

A Forestry Commission spokesman said: “We are working with the police to bring this event to an end as soon as possible and reduce the nuisance to local people."