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Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK

Special Report

Drug arrests mar jazz festival

The festival attracted around 50,000 visitors

Police have charged 39 people following a record number of arrests at the 16th annual Brecon Jazz Festival.

Nearly half the 90 arrests made were for controlled drugs offences and 23 people were taken into custody for public order disturbances.

BBC Wales' Melanie Doel speaks to Inspector Les Clark on the arrests

Inspector Les Clark of Dyfed-Powys Police said the number of arrests had to be taken in the context of the number of visitors, estimated at 50,000 this year.

"We have many, many thousands in the town and the number of people we do arrest is a tiny percentage," he said.

Fears over the level of crime at the festival led a few of the mid Wales town's traders to board up their shops and leave for the weekend.

BBC Wales' Melanie Doel reports on the mixed feelings generated by the festival
The businessmen in Brecon, Powys, said they have been forced to leave their businesses by the "drunken behaviour" of some festival-goers.

The event grew from humble beginnings in 1984, to become one of Europe's premier festivals, securing exclusive UK appearances from major stars on the jazz scene.

This year stars such as Stan Tracey were performing tribute concerts in a celebration of the centenary of the birth of the legendary Duke Ellington.

[ image: Mark Williams says behaviour has 'degenerated']
Mark Williams says behaviour has 'degenerated'
But cinema-owner Peter Davis closed up and moved out for the three days and Mark Williams has followed suit with his pizza business.

"Over the years it's degenerated," Mr Williams said.

"It's got worse and worse on the streets. With the level of alcohol and drugs, it is just not the situation I want to work in."

But many welcome the boost the event brings to the area and organisers insist it is only a few people who cause trouble.

"The majority of people really enjoy this weekend. This is to jazz what Notting Hill is to the Caribbean," said organiser Alan Street.

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