Street drinkers camp on museum roof as antisocial behaviour problem worsens
- Credit: MARIAM GHAEMI
“Brazen” street drinkers scaled a museum roof and set up camp metres from priceless exhibits as antisocial behaviour in Bury St Edmunds town centre escalates.
They built a shelter on top of Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds using wooden pallets and carpet and used it as a base where they drank alcohol and urinated, heritage officers have said.
Museum staff were concerned about the risk to the artefacts in the exhibition space underneath, including the 19th-century murderer William Corder's scalp and book bound in his skin.
READ MORE: 'Enough is enough!' - drive to combat street drinking in Bury St Edmunds town centreThese "audacious" actions over a weekend a few weeks ago were revealed as business Furniture Market, in Brentgovel Street, announced it would soon be shutting following break-ins, broken windows and an assault on co-owner Lindsay Foreman.
She said the popular market town had "definitely" declined - a view shared by some on social media - and business leader Mark Cordell
said Bury's reputation was at stake.
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Also in the past week, three teenagers were arrested after police received reports of a group of youths damaging tables outside Costa Coffee at the Arc shopping centre.
READ MORE: Police warn youngsters planning disruption in town centre of 'robust' actionAnd the Sunday Suppers group, that gives food to those in need in the town centre, had to call 999 on Sunday, September 23, following threatening and abusive behaviour towards its volunteers.
Miss Foreman said: "A lot of people have had their eyes opened in the last week and are quite surprised. We don't want the town going this way.
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"Every town has it's problems, but we have got a group of 15/20 people just roaming around doing whatever they want to do."
Heritage officers, who asked not to be named, said the group's behaviour left them feeling "uncomfortable" and "intimidated", adding how two had begged from members of the audience during the interval in an evening event.
Recently, the group were congregating at a tent pitched by two rough sleepers in Short Brackland, next to Furniture Market and the museum, but the tent has been taken down and they moved to outside the closed Cornhill Shopping Centre.
Agencies have said only a small minority are actually rough sleepers, adding they are mainly from the local area.
A spokesman for West Suffolk Council, which runs the museum, said: "Our police partners are continuing to use a variety of powers available to them including under the Public Space Protection Order which is in place in Bury St Edmunds town centre.
"They have increased their patrols will confiscate alcohol from street drinkers where appropriate, and take positive action in respect of anti-social behaviour."
They added: "The BID (Business Improvement District), council, police and other local partners continue to work together to try to reduce rough sleeping and address the separate issues of antisocial behaviour/street drinking."
READ MORE: Charity calls for public to change the way it gives to the homelessInspector Matt Paisley, locality inspector for Bury St Edmunds, said: "Everything that can be done on the checklist of how to deal with antisocial behaviour issues has been and is being used and we are still looking at inventive ways of tackling the problem. It needs a long-term solution."
Mr Cordell, chief executive of the BID, said Bury residents were generous, but urged people not to give individuals cash as "it's invariably spent on substances".
On the antisocial behaviour problem, Mr Cordell said: "I am concerned. It's detrimentally affecting the reputation of the town and I don't want this inappropriate behaviour to be accepted and I know residents, visitors and businesses share that view."
-Ricky Florian, of no fixed address, was charged September 17 for criminal damage, two counts of breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order and theft after police were called to reports of a group of males drinking alcohol and causing a disturbance in Short Brackland on September 16. During the incident a police car was damaged, with two wing mirrors removed.
Florian appeared before Ipswich Magistrates' Court on September 18 where he was remanded into custody for eight weeks and ordered to pay £207.49 in compensation.
-West Suffolk Council is urging businesses, their staff and their customers to report any antisocial behaviour to police here.