Fears Red Cross centre could be forced to move if attacks continue
PUBLISHED: 07:57 18 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:20 18 January 2016
Bosses at a charity centre in Ipswich fear they may have to move if a spate of burglaries and criminal attacks on their venue continues.
The Red Cross centre in Chevallier Street has been struck four times in just over a year – including a devastating arson attack in 2014.
Burglaries followed in July and November last year and then on December 28, staff discovered they had been targeted again.
This time windows and doors were smashed and damaged but little was stolen as items taken in the previous burglary had not yet been replaced.
Now the centre, which offers mobility aids for people in the community, has had to shut its doors because of the incidents.
Mark Bradley, the organisation’s local independent living service manager, said the crimes have devastated staff and volunteers.
“It (has caused) quite a big dip in staff morale,” he said. “We’re coming in every day to try to improve the lives of people in our community and it’s definitely made things more difficult.
“But we’re a resilient organisation and we try to bounce back from these things as fast as possible.”
Describing the damage he said: “Every single door pretty much was broken or the glass put through.
“The main hall is no longer secure. They ransacked the office looking for stuff but there wasn’t very much they could take. It was more a case of looking and wrecking the joint.
“We’ve deemed it no longer secure for us to work here. We’re upping our security and it’s looking like we’ll be back in this building sometime in February.” Nanette Charville, operations director for the Red Cross in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, said while the charity wanted to stay in its premises they may have to consider their position – but only as a last resort.
She said: “We don’t want to be driven from anywhere, after all we work in much more intensive situations across the world and other parts of this country, so to be driven from here would be an absolute last resort.
“What you’ve got to remember is people are putting their pounds in the bucket to keep places like this open and every time we are burgled, every time equipment is taken from us and we need to replace it, it is money we’re taking from those buckets.”
Sergeant Louisa Masterson from Ipswich Central’s Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “Inquiries are still ongoing in the investigation of these incidents.
“We have visited the premises and carried out a crime reduction survey and offered crime prevention/security advice to the organisation.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101.
Last year, Bury St Edmunds-based drug and alcohol charity Focus12 had £10,000 stolen in a cyber attack.
The deputy leader of Suffolk County Council Christopher Hudson has said the latest incidents showed a need for increased focus on cyber crime and public protection.
“I’m very sad to hear that,” he said. “People are volunteering and doing very good work for various charities only to find themselves being ripped off.
“We must continue to put resources into public protection and extra resources to deal with cyber crime.”