ROYAL Mail rejected the chance to secure its empty properties free-of-charge in the months before the illegal rave where police were attacked and a schoolboy collapsed and later died. Thousands of people attended a rave at the former delivery office in East Croydon last weekend, organised after the building was taken over by squatters. Fire extinguishers, furniture and masonry were thrown at police when they tried to stop the event where 15-year-old Rio Andrew later fell ill after drinking from a bottle of beer suspected to have contained the party drug ketamine. Royal Mail has said it did all it could to secure the building, but its claims have been questioned by property managers Global Guardians, which places live-in 'guardians' in vacant premises across London to protect them squatting, vandalism and theft. Security director said the company offered its services to Royal Mail on multiple occasions, most recently in February. "We got passed around different departments and when we did get a response they said they had heard of the service but weren't interested because they didn't have problems with their empty buildings," said Mr Woolgar. The deal would have meant the delivery office, in Cherry Orchard Road, would have been occupied by a number of guardians when it closed to make way for flats three months ago. Instead it was taken over by squatters in the week leading to the rave on June 14. "Had Royal Mail signed up with us then I'm 100 per cent sure the rave would not have happened," said Mr Woolgar. "With a building of that size we would have placed a sizeable number of guardians in there as a security presence, as well as being very proactive in how often we visited to make sure there were no problems. "While guardians are living in a property, people cannot enter without authority." Global Guardians builds temporary accommodation within vacant properties - including kitchens and showers. The guardians have a communal living space and pay a licence fee to the company. The fee is significantly cheaper than paying rent, but guardians can be asked to move to another building with four weeks' notice. Global Guardians manages around 140 buildings in London, including six in Croydon, and works with local authorities, the NHS and housing associations. Royal Mail informed the police when squatters took over the delivery office despite the site being patrolled by a security guard. When staff tried to enter they were met with physical threats and a security guard was injured. The company applied for a court order but it was not granted in time for squatters to evicted before the rave. They have since been removed. Mr Woolgar says it should never have reached that stage. "I found it strange Royal Mail didn't want to use our services given how many empty buildings they have," he said. "If nothing else it would have saved them a significant amount of money while also making sure their properties were secure." A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said: "We don't discuss details of the security systems on any of our sites and cannot comment on hypothetical situations." The Metropolitan Police has also faced questions over its handling of the rave after it emerged an intelligence officer knew it would happen but decided not to act on the information.
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