Concern at drunken behaviour in town

OUTBREAKS of violence and criminal damage by drunken louts have cost residents and shopkeepers thousands of pounds in damage.In the last two weeks late-night violence in Woodbridge has caused chaos and resulted in smashed windows, damaged cars and fighting in the street.

By Richard Smith

OUTBREAKS of violence and criminal damage by drunken louts have cost residents and shopkeepers thousands of pounds in damage.

In the last two weeks late-night violence in Woodbridge has caused chaos and resulted in smashed windows, damaged cars and fighting in the street.

Now Woodbridge police, working in partnership with licensed premises, are hoping to ban some of the troublemakers from pubs and off licences.

The violent scenes, which included fights outside one pub, have erupted at a time when the number of officers in the Woodbridge sector has been cut.

But Ben Cook, sector commander, stressed yesterday the five positions being lost included people who had not been working under his command for many months. They included two officers seconded to a paedophile investigation, an officer being promoted, one resigning and another on sick leave.

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Insp Cook said two officers a day had been sent to Lowestoft last year to help with the town's rising crime but this would not happen this year. Woodbridge was obtaining another one-and-a-half community police posts and a reshuffle of staff had led to more officers on shift.

Insp Cook said: ''We have been experiencing some unusual problems in the town centre but we do have a unique advantage in being close to the Martlesham headquarters and I get regular support from the dog, firearms and traffic units in addition to the policing I put out.''

The catalogue of damage includes: Two premises in the Turban Centre had windows broken in storage rooms; six cars in New Street were damaged at a cost of between £250 and £350 for each vehicle; house windows were broken in Seckford Street and there was fighting outside The Angel pub in Theatre Street.

Pc Mick Sears, community beat officer, outlined the incidents at a meeting of Woodbridge Town Council.

He said: ''Normally, unruly behaviour in the town is not too bad, but for the last two Fridays we have had quite considerable public order problems and two Fridays ago things really got quite serious.

''There was rowdy behaviour in the town, waking everybody up, and there was a considerable police presence. Several people were cautioned or arrested.

''There were two more arrests on Friday and there would have been more but we were full up at Woodbridge police station and one individual had to go to Felixstowe."

The Woodbridge sector covers Woodbridge, Kesgrave and 48 rural parish council areas with a total population of nearly 50,000 people. Five officers have been lost out of 25.

Cllr Roy Burgon said: ''At the end of the day, it seems there has been a cut in 20% of the Woodbridge establishment, but it has been done without any local consultation.''

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